If you turn on a news channel and they begin talking about the economy, you’ll likely hear the word “uncertainty” dominate the conversation. This is because we are facing a more unpredictable business environment than ever before.
Whether it is tax rates that always seem to be in flux, outright fear of the obligations under the Affordable Care Act, or the continued uneven economic recovery, there are innumerable pressures on the minds of business owners as they contemplate what to do next.
Beyond all of those, businesses large and small have come to fear the regulatory process, with a never-ending labyrinth of rules, processes and obligations being churned out on a daily basis by every unit of government. The spontaneity and innovation of the business community is jeopardized by this unruly amount of regulation and uneven interpretation and application of these administrative laws.
Too often, the default of the governmental process is to find reasons to oppose something, rather than try to find a way to make it work. That is why the chamber believes our elected officials must act as champions of the business community.
The elected should serve as an advocate in the interpretation and application of the regulations in place. Most of all, our elected officials need to act as the judges of process to ensure that regulations are applied equally and without favoritism.
We only need to look at Chicago to see what happens when process and municipal codes are distorted, contorted and twisted by political leadership to satisfy personal whims. Thankfully, over time, our region’s electorate has demonstrated that we don’t tolerate or accept that style of gamesmanship. And our community is a better place to do businesses as a result.
Regulations written to placate individual elected official’s personal preference, instead of societal standards, are threatening to the free market system. Worse, officials can be tempted to abandon established regulatory process to satisfy their own desires and wishes, but such actions harm the business community.
That is why the chamber works to ensure fair and impartial application of regulations imposed on businesses, without favoritism or undue interference. While we appreciate our members who are lawyers, you shouldn’t have to hire a lobbyist to smooth things over for the banal and routine permitting processes.
Recently, we’ve been on a campaign to highlight that, despite stabilized tax revenue for local governments, it’s not time for the public sector to celebrate and think the job of economic recovery is complete. We’re five years removed from the fiscal collapse, but the aftereffects are still visible. Now more than ever, we need our elected leaders to think like a small business and remain accommodating of small business growth.
While it is easy to look at the dysfunction of Washington, Springfield or Chicago and wonder how it got that way, the blame ultimately lies with the citizens, through our compliancy or tacit acceptance of the way things are. The Illinois Chamber’s Doug Whitley recently chronicled the challenges businesses face in our state in a column that I keep on my desk.
Doug’s piece ended with, “We regard Chicago as a world-class city. So, like Moscow, we acknowledge the existence of a mafia, but we elect ours. The taxpayers’ tolerance for high-cost and inefficient government is matched only by donors’ willingness to pay for it and the voters perpetuating such political entertainment. It is a high price to pay.”
Let us resolve to never tolerate that price in Naperville or in the collar county governments. We must continue to have high expectations and hold our elected leadership responsible for their actions, words and votes.
Michael A. Evans is the president and CEO of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, a 1,500-member business advocacy organization in the western suburbs. He can be reached at 630-544-3382.