Advancing the needs of Illinois small businesses in 2023

Small business advocates are energized and ready to advocate for the small business community in 2023.

There is excitement about the progress made this past year on an array of important policies that will support small businesses. There is also an acknowledgment that zealous advocacy will be needed to put small businesses in a better position to face the headwinds impacting our economy.

This past year the Small Business Advocacy Council remained focused on policies to foster the recovery of small businesses and local communities. These policies included various pieces of legislation focused on supporting small businesses struggling to hire employees by supplementing the workforce.

This included a child-care tax credit, an issue which seems to garner bipartisan support. While this bill did not pass, we will be working with legislators to enact a child-care tax credit in 2023 because when the costs of child care, and other expenses, outweigh the benefits of coming back to work, it's difficult to transition people back into the workforce.

Our efforts also included advocating for policies aimed at eliminating or modifying unnecessarily burdensome occupational licenses. These bills passed, which should help people get licensed to work, and in some cases, unleash entrepreneurs committed to launching a business.

Our 2023 agenda will include initiatives focused on stabilizing the cost of health insurance for small businesses. The cost of health insurance is profoundly impacting both employers and their employees. Various options are being considered to address the costs of health insurance and this will rank high on our list of priorities.

Our agenda will also include legislative proposals to provide a level playing field for small businesses vying for government contracts. Procurement reform and transparency will be key components of our advocacy efforts this coming year. Occupational licensing reform will also remain on the radar as we continue our work to reduce barriers to economic growth in Illinois.

We will continue advocating for policies to reduce vacancies in neighborhood business districts because transforming vacant properties into vibrant small businesses supports local communities. Small business advocates will also build off their successful reduction of Illinois LLC fees by advocating to reduce other excessive fees.

The SBAC will engage in discussions about property taxes and convene stakeholders and legislators to address this important topic. We will also explore policies that will help small businesses transition into a post-pandemic world.

We have a robust and ambitious agenda and that is a good thing. Successful advocacy is challenging and takes patience and perseverance. We are optimistic that by bringing the small business community together, legislation can be enacted that supports small businesses and strengthens our economy.

Engagement and collaboration have always been instrumental ways to influence public policy. Working in a nonpartisan manner and engaging policymakers from both sides of the aisle will continue to be a key part of our efforts.

It is an honor to fight for the small business community, and we look forward to getting back to work in Springfield next year.

• Elliot Richardson is co-founder and president of the Small Business Advocacy Council.

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