Business Advocacy

The mission of the Business Advocacy Committee (BAC) is to assist the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce in being a more strategic advocate for its members in order to strengthen the economic vitality of area businesses and to enhance the quality of life in the community.

The BAC is charged with reviewing key business issues, evaluating their merits, determining the potential impact to Chamber members and the community, developing positions on said issues and presenting positions on said issues to the Chamber Board for input and/or approval.

The BAC will strive to be proactive in its work by anticipating issues and conducting due diligence in advance of critical deadlines.

The goal of our issue advocacy is to help shape public policy decisions and/or public opinion on critical issues to the best interest of the membership in order to strengthen the economic vitality of area businesses and to enhance the quality of life in the community.

Recent Issues:

March 2017 – The Sycamore Chamber took an official stance opposing the House Bill 2749 which amends the Minimum Wage Law. It provides that the overtime requirements of the Law do not apply to an employee in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity as defined by or covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 but compensated at a salary greater than $47,476 per year or the weekly/monthly portion thereof or a greater salary as may be adopted by USDOL. Provides that the amount shall increase annually by the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index. Effective Immediately.

Along with the Illinois Chamber we oppose this bill for the following reasons:

  • The proposed change to the salary level has a disproportionate adverse effect on employers located in lower-wage areas and harms the career growth of mid-level employees—the difference in the cost of living between Chicago, Springfield, and other cities directly impacts an employee’s wages. While $47,476 may be an average administrative salary in Chicago, a salary around $35,000 in Springfield may be the average.
  • Few employers have the budget flexibility to increase the wages paid to employees under the proposed increase in the minimum salary level. Many employers will have to choose among the three unpalatable options:
  1. The employer will need to lay off employees to fund the increase in wages for retained employees. This will necessitate curtailing aspects of their operations and/or increasing the workload of the remaining exempt workforce.
  2. In order to maintain payroll budgets, employers will need to lower the hourly wages of non-exempt employees to remain at the prior year’s level. This will have a negative impact on employee morale, and place smaller employers at a disadvantage in competing with larger employers for qualified candidates
  3. The employer will need to adopt a firm restriction on the overtime hours worked by non-exempt employees, relying on temporary or part-time staff for additional personnel resources at straight-time rates, or forcing exempt employees to absorb some of their non-exempt colleagues’ duties.
  • The growing opportunity for more flexible work hours such as allowing employees to work from home given cellphones, tablets, internet connections, etc. will be turned upside down, and employers will be required to vigorously regulate and oversee their employee’s business use of such devices away from the workplace. Employees enjoying such flexibility may see it eliminated or dramatically curtailed.

We respectfully urge a NO vote.

March 2017 – We held a Candidates Night for the community to hear from the three Mayoral Candidates. Over 200 attended. We accepted questions from the audience and from our membership prior to that eveningAlso gave other county and municipal candidates and opportunity to meet and greet with those in attendance.

May 2016 – The Sycamore Chamber took an official stance opposing the  County School Facility Occupation Tax. The DeKalb School District and four other districts in DeKalb County are pursuing a 1 percent sales tax increase in the form of a County School Facility Occupation Tax. The Chamber feels strongly that this would have an adverse affect on our local economy.  Position Statement in Opposition to County School Facility Occupation Tax 2016

May 2016 – The Sycamore Chamber wrote a letter supporting the Sycamore Park District’s Grant Application to the Illinois Department of Transportation for their Trail Project. Park District Letter of Support 2016

March 2016 – Committee met and discussed the one percent sales tax increase, a County School Facility Occupation Tax, that the DeKalb School District is likely going to pursue. Also attended an informational meeting hosted by the DeKalb School District regarding the issue. Those in attendance heard a presentation from Ann Noble with Stifel Nicolaus Financial Consulting and it was followed by a question and answer session. It was determined that an additional meeting had to be scheduled to clarify the exact net dollar amount that this tax would produce.

February 2016 – Committee met with DeKalb County Building & Development Association Representatives and the Sycamore City Manager, Brian Gregory to discuss and review Sycamore’s Impact and Connection Fees. It was determined that there was no need for  the Chamber to take a position at this point.

January 2016 – Participated in a planning workshop with the Sycamore City Council and Planning Commission to discuss the annexation and rezoning of the Northwest Sub Area Plan and the corresponding regulations outlined in the Unified Development Ordinance.

August 2015 – Appointed to Mayor’s Ad Hoc Committee on Growth Management. Discussions focused on Connection Fees, Land Cash Ordinances and Impact Fees.

April 2015 –  Participated in discussions facilitated by Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti, Robert Pritchard, Senator Dave Syverson, and Representative Tom Demmer about government consolidation and unfunded mandates.

The Lt. Governor was appointed to lead a task force under the Governor’s Executive Order 15-15 to find ways for the state to consolidate its more than 7,000 units of local government thereby reducing duplication and mismanagement, and improving operating efficiencies.  Illinois has the highest local government taxes in the nation, including the 10th highest sales tax and 2nd highest property taxes.

The state currently imposes more than 280 unfunded mandates at a cost to local communities in the billions of dollars.  However, not all mandates are undesirable; for example some can save taxpayers money and improve safety while others provide citizens with information so they can be more engaged in their government.

November 2014 – The Committee met with State Representative Bob Pritchard and Sycamore School District Officials to discuss the DeKalb County School Occupation Sales Tax.  Area school superintendents said they have discussed the possibility of a countywide sales tax for school facilities, but say school board members have not shown interest in bringing the measure to voters. We will keep an eye on this issue.

October 2014 – The Committee has with State Representative Bob Pritchard and Sycamore School District Officials to discuss Senate Bill 16 (SB16). This bill will make sweeping changes in how the state funds education. SB16 does not increase the level of education funding, but changes the way in which limited state funding is apportioned among school districts.  The Illinois State Board of Education has calculated the amount each school district would receive next year if SB16, as written, becomes law. District 427 would lose $591,803 per year. This loss of state funds is on top of the $3.2 million dollars that our school district has lost over the last four years due to funds being pro-rated. Will meet again in 2015 to discuss a possibly taking a position.

 

October 2014 – As the voice for our business community and as reinforced by our recent member survey, we oppose raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour. We wrote a letter to the Governor and our State Legislators opposing the increase, and asking them to do the same.

Our small businesses cannot afford to have the highest minimum wage in the nation. One of the serious consequences of raising the minimum wage is that our local business owners, saddled with a higher cost of labor, will need to cut costs, or pass the increase to their consumers in order to make ends meet. Many of the businesses that pay their workers minimum wage operate on extremely tight profit margins, with any increase in the cost of labor threatening this delicate balance.
Illinois currently has the highest minimum wage in the Midwest at $8.25 an hour and the highest corporate income tax rate in the industrialized world. Indexing the minimum wage would ensure that employee costs would raise every year, resulting in expenses that further add to the burden placed on Illinois employers and placing them at a competitive disadvantage with the rest of the nation. Businesses respond to the endless increase in labor costs by shifting their hiring focus to skilled employees or more capital-intensive production, leaving the least skilled workers out of the labor market.
Increases in the minimum wage fall disproportionately on small businesses who are the least able to absorb dramatic increase in labor costs. Business owners are already dealing with the relatively high costs of doing business in Illinois, such as workers’ compensation costs and unemployment insurance costs, and uncertainty about the impact of the Affordable Care Act. There are only so many dollars to go around and this can worsen an already adverse business environment in which employer’s bare costs that are stifling their ability to grow and create jobs.

Also, raising the minimum wage has not proven to reduce poverty or narrow the income gap but still places a stranglehold on Illinois’ top job creators: our small businesses. The overwhelming majority of economists continue to affirm the job-killing nature of mandatory wage increases. Mandatory minimum-wage hikes also increase unemployment among the young and unskilled; recent studies show that a 10% increase in the minimum wage results in a 2.3% reduction in employment among that category of worker.
We respectfully ask you to evaluate the claims of those in favor of the minimum wage increase based on the known facts, and measure and weigh each merit. Our local businesses are constantly being challenged by increased costs, decreasing revenue and the infringement on the employer’s right to manage their own business.

The Sycamore Chamber of Commerce, representing 500 businesses in DeKalb County urges you to oppose the minimum wage increase.
We urge you to vote no, stop the minimum wage hike and show our member businesses  that you support a positive environment for business in Illinois.

2014 – September – The Sycamore Chamber encourages voters to study the Park District’s Vision 2020 proposal in order to make an informed and educated decision regarding the vote on November 4.

We sent a letter in support of a healthy Park District to our local media venues and our members.

The Sycamore Chamber believes that a strong park district is not only invaluable to the community but also imperative to the growth and sustainability of a thriving business culture. Therefore, it is in the Chamber’s best interest to inform our members of the park district’s efforts to maintain and expand opportunities for our residents.
First and foremost, we encourage voters to educate themselves about the Sycamore Park District and make an informed decision regarding the funding measure, and the proposed Vision 2020 prior to casting a vote in November.
The Chamber understands how important it is for our community to have a park district that responds to residents’ needs and provides opportunities for the health, well-being, and development of all individuals. Strong park districts can also have a positive economic impact on development, vitality, and contribute to the overall quality of life. Our district’s facilities and programs improve our economic competitiveness and may even further bolster business and work force recruiting efforts.
On behalf of our almost 500 member businesses, organizations and non-profits we commend the Sycamore Park District’s leadership for their thoughtful and prudent approach addressing expansion needs. We encourage members of the community to educate themselves and view the Park Board video on the Vision 2020 plan. The video is an informative piece on the history of how this measure came to be on the ballot.

2014 – August – Supported DeKalb County Community Foundations Advancing DeKalb County Initiative

2014 – June – Wrote a letter of support for Kishwaukee College for the TriO Student Support Services Program

2013 – February – On behalf of our 500 plus members the Sycamore Chamber sends a letter of support for the Greater Elgin Family Care Center’s new access point application to secure Federal HRSA/BPHC funding to develop a Community Health Center in DeKalb County. They hope to assume operations of KishHealth System’s Center for Family Health in Sycamore. This health center will serve DeKalb County residents who are at 200% of the Federal Poverty level. Currently there are approximately 33,397 residents that would qualify. At the time of application DeKalb County was one of two counties left in the State of Illinois which contains medically underserved population that does not have a FQHC in it to help meet those needs.

2012 – March — The Chamber Executive Director attended a City Council Meeting and spoke on behalf of its 500 plus Businesses. The Chamber supported the City’s plan for the 100 Block of West Exchange Street to be kept open for two way traffic when the Courthouse expansion is complete. It was voted on and passed with a 5 to 3 vote that evening.

2012 – August – Sycamore Chamber sends letter to Governor Pat Quinn requesting him to veto the Leucadia Bill, SB 3766.

At a time when natural gas prices are dropping, this bill would force Nicor Gas and Ameren customers to pay more than triple the current gas rates to cover the construction and operation of a $3 billion “clean coal” plant in Chicago. One analysis found that the measure would slam Illinois consumers and businesses with $2.4 billion in higher rates over the first decade alone.

Our local businesses are constantly being challenged by increased costs, decreasing revenue and the ever present threat of higher state and local taxes.  If this bill passes in its current form it will undoubtedly create even more burden for many businesses in the form of higher energy costs.  The perception that Illinois State Government has imposed yet another obstacle to our local employers will further inhibit their ability to grow and employ the jobless. This will be difficult to overcome with only the prospect of promised short term construction jobs. Furthermore the known costs and mechanism for subsidy place too great a burden with too few and yet many uncertain benefits, on not just the state’s businesses, but all ratepayers and the citizens of Illinois. We respectfully ask him to evaluate the claims of Leucadia supporters based on the known facts and to weigh their merit. We ask Governor Quinn to show the businesses of Illinois, including our 450 Chamber members, that Illinois supports a positive environment for business.Governor vetos bill!

2011 – October – Sycamore Chamber again opposes Tanaska Bill, SB 2488, and sends letter to Senator Christine Johnson requesting a no vote. Bill defeated in Springfield.

– Chamber opposes Tanaska Bill, sends letter to Senator Brad Burzinski requesting a no vote. Bill defeated in Springfield!

2011- The Chamber opposes the 1/2 % home rule tax increase proposed by Sycamore City Council.

2011Healthy Families Act – Requires certain employers, who employ 15 or more employees for each working day during 20 or more workweeks a year, to provide a minimum paid sick leave of: (1) seven days annually for those who work at least 30 hours per week; and (2) a prorated annual amount for those who work less than 30 but at least 20 hours a week, or less than 1,500 but at least 1,000 hours per year. To review the Act in detail go to  http://www.employerlawreport.com/uploads/file/Healthy%20Families%20Act.pdf

2010 – November – Chamber supports Kishwaukee Family YMCA and Kish Health System’s application for the Pioneering Healthy Communities (PHC) / Action Communities for Health, Innovation and enVironmental changE (ACHIEVE) grant. This collaborative effort will enhance the health and well-being of our community and we look forward to working with these organizations in this endeavor. Both the YMCA and Kish Health are cornerstones in our community. Both have consistently provided integral services to children, adults, and families for more than 50 years.  We recognize that both organizations have community health as a priority and we support their continued efforts to improve the overall health of our community and our residents.

2009 The Chamber supports an AMTRAK stop in Genoa. We believe it would provide service to much of DeKalb County, including the campus of Northern Illinois University, Western Kane County and parts of Boone County, and significantly impact all of our communities.

We understand that Amtrak / Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Feasibility Report determined in May, 2007 that the most direct route for inter-city service from Dubuque, Iowa and Northwest Illinois to Chicago was the Canadian National (CN) Railroad line running through Galena, Freeport, Rockford, and Genoa.

We believe that an inter-city Amtrak station would attract new visitors and tourists to travel to Genoa to reach destinations along the Blackhawk Line running from Dubuque to Chicago, exposing these visitors to Genoa businesses and generating retail and restaurant sales in Genoa, as well as other communities in DeKalb County.

We also believe that the this Amtrak Line would serve residents and businesses throughout DeKalb County and Northwest Illinois in traveling to job centers and business destinations located along the Blackhawk Line. For more information or to show your support go to www.directroute.org

2009 – The Chamber opposes the current proposed Healthcare Reform Act and is preparing a letter to go out to members and to our legislators. The rising cost of healthcare is slowly suffocating the business community, reducing our nation’s entrepreneurial spirit and eroding our ability to compete globally.  The Sycamore Chamber believes the healthcare reform proposals currently being considered by various congressional committees, however, will NOT reduce healthcare costs and further threaten to dismantle employer-sponsored coverage, erode the innovation of the market, and remove choice and flexibility in selecting a health plan that best meets the needs of the consumer.

2009 – The Chamber opposes the proposed “Employee Free Choice Act” – also known as the Card Check bill – a proposed law that would change how unions are allowed to organize workers in the United States. Letters where sent to Senator Roland Burris and Senator Dick Durbin.  Although the Employee Free Choice Act, or Card Check, (EFCA) is a federal issue, the legislation would fundamentally alter the way unions operate within the workforce, making it much easier for unions to conduct and win card check campaigns.Due to the tremendous ramifications the Card Check legislation has on Illinois businesses. The Sycamore Chamber is speaking out against a resolution and urging Congress to oppose the federal Card Check legislation.

The Sycamore Chamber of Commerce opposes H.R 1409, the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) and Senate (S. 560).  The bill consists of three provisions, each of which is unacceptable:

•  Elimination of the Secret Ballot: Trading the secret ballot process for one that invites intimidation and coercion and leads to widespread disenfranchisement of workers is not a step in the right direction.

•  Writing contracts through government imposed arbitration: Forced arbitration would impose unreasonable and inflexible terms and cause an employer to lose control over their operations, preventing them from growing their business.

•  Unreasonable and one-sided penalty expansion: EFCA imposes dramatic new penalties on employers for violations of the National Labor Relations Act, but not a single new penalty on unions or labor organizers.

EFCA would have a particularly devastating impact on small employers who, as the primary source for new jobs, are counted on to reverse the current economic downturn. This bill is an awful idea in good economic times and a catastrophic idea in the difficult economic times now upon us.

For more information regarding this bill go to www.uschamber.com/issues/index/labor/cardchecksecrbal

2009 – The Chamber chose preferred candidates for the April 09 election. These candidates’ philosophies most closely align with the mission and vision of the Sycamore Chamber.

2008 – The Chamber created and presented an Economic Position Statement to City Council.  The Sycamore Chamber of Commerce believes that for Sycamore to continue its momentum of progress and sustained economic vitality, it is essential to our business community as well as our entire community that the City Council continues to implement and follow the proposed Comprehensive Plan.  This Plan provides healthy residential growth, allowing necessary business expansion in our community.

The Sycamore Chamber will continue to be an active partner offering input in the information gathering and decision making process on how Sycamore should zone and plan the use of the land within our borders to increase local business revenues and enhance our local tax base.

The Sycamore Chamber will continue collaborating with all economic development entities to encourage and foster aggressive business growth that is essential for a healthy and vibrant Sycamore area community.

PRINCIPLES IN SUPPORT OF THIS STATEMENT

  • By encouraging businesses to locate and thrive in our community, we strengthen the area’s economy, ensure diversified career opportunities, and increase the tax base for funding services.
  • Recognizing that a healthy business environment requires efficient and responsive governmental system, we encourage cooperation and consolidation, to reduce costs, delays and uncertainties in permitting, approvals, inspections and licensing.
  • The business community should not be disproportionately burdened with taxes, fees, assessments or licensing requirements.
  • The impact on local business should be considered when making land use decisions, and ensure such decisions are appropriate to location and are in keeping with the parallel goal of ensuring sustainable business growth and economic vitality.

2006 – The Chamber endorced a resolution in support of the City of Sycamore’s proposed Real Estate Transfer Tax.  The Chamber supports the Transfer Tax because we believe that a healthy school system is essential to economic vitality and a mechanism to attract industry. The tax also is a collaborative effort between the city and the school district and is the best alternative for the City and the School to address a projected shortfall in operating expenses for our school district.  Referendum held in March of 2006 passes.

Please contact the Chamber if there is an issue that needs to be brought to the BAC for consideration.

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