Illinois should focus on helping small businesses, not giveaways to major corporations

The Small Business Advocacy Council championed an impressive array of legislation that passed the Illinois General Assembly this year.

We will build on this momentum by going big in 2024, working to simultaneous enact multiple policies that will support small businesses and improve the Illinois economy. We will urge policymakers to fully embrace the small business community, because it drives our economy and creates jobs in local communities. Our policy proposals will tackle issues that if properly addressed, can unleash entrepreneurs and level the playing field for local small businesses.

The SBAC will advance the narrative that so long as tax breaks are used as a primary tool to foster economic development in Illinois, they should not be primarily awarded to large corporations. Illinois uses lavish tax credits to attract and retain larger companies being courted by other states. It is unfortunate that states brazenly attempt to lure companies away from their neighbors and others by spending taxpayer money on robust tax breaks for large corporations.

While our policymakers may feel they have no choice but to play this game, funds should also be awarded to small businesses that support local communities.

Our narrative will be coupled with action, and we will advocate for the reinstatement of the small business job creation tax credit. This popular program was created in 2010 and regrettably, expired in 2016. The SBAC will push for policymakers to reinstate this program and offer a $2,500 tax credit to businesses with under 50 full-time employees that create and maintain a net new job for 12 months.

The process should not be complicated to procure this tax credit either. The increased revenue associated with the income taxes paid by individuals hired through this program will also benefit the state in the long run. This is a tax incentive that can truly be utilized by the small business community.

There is broad agreement among policymakers that small and minority-owned businesses should receive a fair share of government contracts. Unfortunately, the present system does not accomplish those goals.

The process of procuring government contracts should be evaluated and reformed, making it simpler and more accessible to small and minority-owned businesses. This will ensure these businesses have an opportunity to compete for contracts that are funded through taxpayer dollars. The SBAC also will work to enact occupational licensing reforms because it's imperative that Illinois policymakers take concrete measures to bring people into our state. This column has addressed stabilizing property taxes before, and we will look to advance policies focused on tackling high property taxes this legislative session.

The SBAC will be working with legislators to draft and advocate for policies that can have a profound impact on the small business community this coming year. The items discussed here are an example of some of the initiatives on our plate.

There is always room for more ideas about how to support small businesses and local economies. The inspiration for our legislation comes from small business owners and advocates whose hard work and dedication creates jobs and supports communities.

Do you have an idea about how policymakers can support small businesses? Reach out and help us go big in 2024.

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

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