Schaumburg Mayor Al Larson received the 2014 Partner America Small Business Advocate Award from the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Tuesday during the monthly morning gathering of the Schaumburg Business Association.
Larson said he was informed of the honor only a week before, at the conference's annual meeting in Dallas.
While Larson applies his 27 years' experience as mayor to the conference's committees on tourism, transportation and advanced manufacturing, the award honors the work he's been doing in his own village, said Jeffrey Bean, managing director of the Partner America Program.
Specifically, Larson has helped develop a micro-enterprise program offering zero-interest loans of up to $10,000 to start or expand small businesses with five or fewer employees.
He's also led Schaumburg in a public-private partnership with the SBA to create the Center for Economic Development, Bean said. Furthermore, Larson has overseen Schaumburg's recommendation of 80 manufacturers to receive Cook County Class 6B tax incentives, resulting in the retention of 3,700 jobs and creation of 2,700 more in the village.
"Mayor Larson, since taking office in 1987 you have continued to be a strong and vocal advocate of small business, and we'd like to recognize your tireless efforts for reinventing the opportunity for business growth, pursuing common interests between government, citizens and businesses, and invoking the necessary changes that will benefit Schaumburg now and for generations to come," Bean said.
"I'm going to Disney World!" Larson joked upon receiving the plaque from Bean. "This is great! I love this. I may wear this around my neck for a while."
Larson quickly thanked the members of his board of trustees and village staff.
"As anyone in business knows, you can't do it yourself," he said.
Larson noted that he is in very good company as a recipient of the award, whose past winners are Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Houston Mayor Anise Parker, Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic and Pembroke Pines, Florida Mayor Frank Ortis.