Small business advocacy this summer

Illinois' legislative sessions are always fast paced, and this year has been no exception.

Policymakers and engaged advocates have hustled to get legislation filed, moved through committees and ultimately passed by both legislative chambers.

Stakeholders have worked zealously to have their priorities included in the budget. The dynamics in our capitol change daily, and even hourly, as this legislative session comes to an end. The sprint is on for legislators and advocates.

Our team has left it all on the proverbial field, working to pass legislation that will support the small business community. My next column will provide a comprehensive update on how our agenda fared this session. However, it's never too early to begin developing a plan for the summer. While this may be the off-season in Springfield, it's the perfect time for formulate policies for the next year, engage with legislators on outstanding matters and foster meaningful relationships with policymakers.

This summer we will engage small business owners and stakeholders to hear about the issues impacting their businesses. These conversations will be the catalyst for legislation laser-focused on supporting the small business community.

We will also engage policymakers as we develop this legislation and collaborate on various initiatives. One key element of our work this summer will be to determine whether bills are needed to impact public policy or governmental units can foster the desired change. The summer is an excellent time to engage with policymakers on changes that do not require legislative action.

We will simultaneously launch the SBAC's district advocate program while our 2024 policies take shape. Meetings will be facilitated through this program so that small business advocates can connect with their legislators.

District advocate meetings are not only focused on fostering support for policies but also, to create and solidify relationships. Small business owners are provided with guidance and materials prior to these meetings and joined by SBAC staff. These meetings are important and proactive ways for constituents to advocate for the small business community.

The summer is also an important time to disseminate information about legislation and programs that were passed in the spring. Small businesses may need to adjust to recently enacted laws while other legislation may provide them with new opportunities. The SBAC will work to provide information about new laws in a variety of ways and through various mediums. Finally, the summer is a time to galvanize and regroup so we can pass legislation that did not make it past the finish line in the spring.

The SBAC is a nonpartisan, policy-driven group that never allows politics to derail good public policy. If you are a small business advocate and want to help advance policies that will support and empower small businesses, there is a seat for you at our table.

This summer is the perfect time to get involved and make your voice heard. We hope to hear from you soon.

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

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