At Innovation Illinois, we believe that a strong middle class is the backbone of economic growth and prosperity. As such, Innovation Illinois is committed to promoting policies that are aimed at supporting middle-out growth, focused on supporting families and communities, and not just a company’s bottom line. This includes a focus on the development of human capital and ensuring that our workforce consists of some of the highest skilled workers in the world. It also means that policies need to ensure that families throughout Illinois the opportunity to succeed.
Additionally, smart, people-focused business regulations help to create a level playing field and protect both workers and consumers from careless (or even downright dishonest) owners and managers. At the same time, we think it’s the duty of every government to provide services efficiently and effectively, while pursuing new policies that will support the expansion of existing Illinois firms and spur creation of even more successful new businesses.
Shining a Light on Right to Work
Here at Innovation Illinois, we are opposed to any attempt to make Illinois a Right to Work state. While the common narrative about Right to Work is focused on labor unions, it is important to note that the impact of those changes will be felt by all middle class workers, not just those that belong to or are represented by a labor union. Make no mistake, the objectives of Right to Work laws are aimed at one thing and one thing only, to reduce the cost of labor by reducing wages.
Strengthening Our Skills Economy
As we recover from the Great Recession, there has been an increasing gap in the skills possessed by those who remain unemployed and the skills of workers that employers need. Innovation Illinois believes that we need to take collective action by creating partnerships between the State, businesses, and our high quality academic institutions to build the skills of job seekers with those in need from our state’s job creators.
Protecting Opportunities to Thrive
In order for Illinois to have a successful and prosperous middle class, Illinois workers need continued access to opportunities that will allow them to succeed. Innovation Illinois strongly supports policies that give Illinois workers a fighting chance to succeed in the workplace, including policies that strengthen the State’s child care program and that ensure that all workers have access to paid sick leave so that they do not have to choose between their jobs and a sick loved one.
Support Our Innovators
In supporting policy to grow our economy, we at Innovation Illinois believe that we should be playing to our strengths, not creating new weaknesses. This means focusing on regional economic development and taking advantage of assets that are already here. Illinois is home to, or within driving distance from, over 10% of the world’s top 100 academic institutions. Universities in the Great Lakes region award 36% of science and engineering degrees, the region produces nearly 1/3 of Research and Development, and Illinois should encourage continued development of high growth areas through support of incubators and hubs that allow our skilled individuals to take their ideas to the marketplace.
Reduce Burdens on New Start-Ups
Today, a would-be business owner has to file nearly identical paperwork with at least three different state agencies. And if the business owner is seeking certification as a woman-, minority- or disadvantaged business enterprise, that requires yet another round of duplicative paperwork filings.
To help new businesses get off the ground quickly and painlessly, the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office, the Illinois Department of Revenue and the Illinois Department of Employment Security should work together to develop a single form that includes all necessary information about a new business. This would ensure that when business owners decide to incorporate in Illinois, they make just one stop at the Secretary of State’s Office, which can then route copies of the filing to all other interested State agencies.