Coalitions give small businesses a big voice

  • Elliot Richardson

    Elliot Richardson

Updated 3/17/2021 3:04 PM

Small businesses do not have the vast resources of large corporations and other special interests to hire lobbyists on their behalf. However, the small business community has numbers and a compelling message.

Illinois small business owners, their employees, families and supporters can gain the support of policymakers by collaborating, forming coalitions and working together.


Small business owners are often consumed with running their businesses.

Many do not have significant time or money to sway politicians or make sizable campaign contributions. As a result, Illinois small business community is too often ignored or taken for granted.

This has caused many Illinois business owners to lose confidence in their politicians, making it difficult for them to find value in working to move good public policy.

Coalitions and collaboration will provide the small business community the voice needed to effectively advocate during this crucial time. The key is establishing broad coalitions that include small businesses and entrepreneurs throughout our state.

Many of the issues facing small businesses in urban areas are the same as those facing rural and suburban business owners. Small home-based entrepreneurs share many of the same concerns as local storefront businesses. While the location and type of business may present unique challenges, working together will provide the entire small business community a seat in Springfield.

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Small business coalitions must also transcend politics. They must fight for policies that will help small businesses grow and create jobs. Too often politicians use small businesses as a talking point while focusing on other legislative priorities.

Small business coalitions can be impactful by putting politics aside and holding all policymakers accountable for passing legislative that is truly focused on improving the small business climate in Illinois.

Small businesses must also partner with other stakeholders to enhance their reach and ability to impact public policies.

For example, over 45 million Americans collectively owe an approximate $1.6 trillion in student loans. This extraordinary debt not only impedes the mobility of young Americans, it reduces the discretionary spending that could help local businesses recover from the pandemic.

The small business community is teaming up with advocates for student debt relief and proposing a cap on excessive interest rates for student loans.

By working together, these different stakeholders can form an impactful partnership that increases their chances of moving good public policy.


There are so many prospective partnerships and coalitions that will empower the small and local businesses.

Together, we have the critical mass to effectively fight for policies to help businesses succeed and grow in Illinois. There has never been a more important time for the small business community to stand together.

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

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