TIME TO FRANCHISE SMALL BUSINESS ADVOCACY

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ElliottRichardson

Small business owners and entrepreneurs create jobs, support their local communities and spark innovation.

Simply put, small businesses are the  engine driving the U.S.  economy.

Lately, it seems policymakers fail to recognize the pivotal role small businesses play in our economy. Politicians pass legislation that burdens the small business community while failing to acknowledge, let alone address, their concerns.  The small business community has taken a stand in Illinois. No longer willing to sit on the sidelines, small business owners have  coalesced and become deeply engaged  in the political process. Small business owners from both political parties, diverse communities and varying industries, have come together to advocate for the small business community.

According to the International Franchise  Association, in 2007, there were 36,106 franchised businesses in Illinois, employing over 400,000 individuals. While there is often a well-known trademark on their doors, these are small businesses.

Franchisees are primarily small  businesses. They are often independently and family owned. While Illinois  franchisees may be associated with larger  corporations, they face many of the same obstacles as other small businesses.

Elliot Richardson, CEO of the SBAC delves into the key issues that the small business community, franchisees included, are working towards in Illinois.

“Small business owners and entrepreneurs have also unleashed the power of critical mass and by working together, have lowered costs and gained  ccess to benefits often reserved for larger  enterprises.”

Lowering excessive Fees

Small businesses in Illinois are often subject to excessive fees which negatively impact their ability to compete, inside and outside, the state. For instance, Illinois Limited Liability Company (LLC) fees are the highest in the nation at $500 and far exceed those paid by corporations. By contrast, it costs only $175 to form a corporation. Annually, Illinois LLCs must pay a $250 renewal fee to the state; far higher than the $100 corporations pay.

Business owners and entrepreneurs that form LLCs must contend with an array of other excessively high fees.  Small business advocates across the state have grown tired of waiting for politicians to lower LLC fees so they have hired a lobbyist, drafted legislation and are aggressively working to bring them down. This past year, legislation, supported by the Governor, that significantly lowers the initial LLC filing fee passed the Illinois Senate without opposition. While the bill was not enacted last session, in 2015, the small business community intends to  pass legislation lowering all LLC fees.  Reasonable filing fees will stimulate the Illinois economy, create jobs and counter the perception that Illinois is a difficult place to own and operate a business.

Affordable Health Insurance 

Several large health insurance carriers have dominated the Illinois market for years. This has stifled competition and essentially placed small businesses at the mercy of a few major health insurance companies. Illinois small businesses have seen their premiums significantly increase,

eroding their bottom lines and causing employees to go without coverage. Many small businesses endured significant  annual increases long before the passage of Obamacare.

Three years ago, the small business community had enough and began looking for new and innovative solutions. Shortly thereafter, a non-partisan coalition of small businesses and entrepreneurs  embarked on a mission to bring to Illinois  a non-profit health insurance cooperative. Small business advocates drafted legislation, traveled to the state capital, took on special interests and through the power of critical mass, secured legislation permitting a cooperative. Not done yet, the small business community worked to form a cooperative in Illinois. Land of Lincoln Health is that cooperative and should bring badly needed competition to the market in 2015.

The remarkable Power of critical mass 

Small business owners and entrepreneurs have also unleashed the power of critical mass and by working together, have lowered costs and gained access to benefits often reserved for larger enterprises. For example, the administrative costs of a 401(k) plan often deter small business owners from offering a retirement plan to their employees. By coming together, small businesses in Illinois have secured access to a multi-employer exchange that may lower these costs. Small businesses have banded together to secure a remarkable array of discounts. Realizing that as a collective group they  have significant purchasing power, small  business owners and entrepreneurs are leveraging one another to increase their bottom lines.

Small business owners have also become increasingly empowered because they are impacting policy and politics in  Illinois. Small business owners and their employees are often not able to make large campaign contributions to politicians.

However, by speaking with a strong and unified voice, the small business community can leverage its numbers to hold politicians, from both sides of the aisle, accountable for their actions. Franchisees and their fellow  small business owners are major job creators throughout the nation. In Illinois, and elsewhere, they can impact politics and the economy through targeted, common-sense, aggressive advocacy. The time has come for small business owners and entrepreneurs to start advocating for one another and their entire community. The time has come to franchise small business advocacy.

About SBAC:

The SBAC is a non-partisan, member driven organization that promotes the  success of small business through political  advocacy, networking, support services and educational programs.

For more information, visit sbacil.org.

About Elliot Richardson:  

Elliot Richardson is the president of the Small Business Advocacy Council. SBAC is a non-partisan, member driven organization that promotes the success of small business through political advocacy, networking, support services and educational programs. Elliot is also a commercial litigation attorney with the firm Korey & Richardson, LLC. The firm represents business owners in commercial  and business matters.