Chesney Guest Column: Seeking your feedback about Phase 4 for Businesses

Signs are displayed on the window of a restaurant to inform customers that the dinning area is closed as Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker ordered all restaurants and bars closed at the end of the business day, as part of efforts to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. March 16, 2020.REUTERS/Joshua Lott

As the State of Illinois, as one unit and not regionally, moved into Phase 4 of Governor Pritzker’s Restore Illinois Plan, businesses across Illinois are working towards reopening but still under restrictions for many.

As with each phase of the Governor’s Restore Illinois Plan, employers fueling our economy are finding inconsistencies and needs for improvement to allow them to operate their business without losing money by doing so.  I recently sent a letter to Governor Pritzker regarding significant industry concerns for Illinois’ independent small business bowling centers, as just one example.  The trade group representing bowling facilities throughout Illinois believed they had an agreement with DCEO and the Pritzker administration to allow operation at 50% capacity, as is the case for youth and indoor recreation centers. 

I asked the Governor, politely, to reconsider and revise Phase 4 guidelines to provide parity for bowling centers with similar 50% capacity guidelines as is in place for youth and indoor recreation centers.  This is a reasonable request from this industry association, while they still recognize that even at 50% capacity some of their member businesses will unfortunately not survive.

This is the type of feedback that I am presenting regularly to the Governor and his Executive Agencies about the impact of the Restore Illinois Plan continued prohibitions on small businesses.  Many of the bowling centers in Northwest Illinois are competing against bowling centers in TWO bordering states.  Members are a month away from league season and 5,000 Illinois residents rely on jobs at these small independent businesses to support their families. 

In the interest of continuing to be a voice for the business community in our region, I am asking small business owners in ALL industries for feedback about Phase 4 so that I can continue to advocate on your behalf with the Pritzker Administration for changes important to you, your employees, and your customers.

Unfortunately, the Illinois House adjourned its Spring Session several hours after passing the unbalanced Budget in late May, and the next day the Illinois House is scheduled to be in Session is Tuesday, November 17, two weeks after the Presidential Election. I am continuing to try to affect change with advocacy on behalf of specific concerns raised by businesses in Northwest Illinois.  Undoubtedly, the only two people in the State of Illinois who have the authority to call the House back into Session before November 17 are Governor JB Pritzker and Speaker Michael Madigan.  It seems clear that will not be happening in the foreseeable future. 

That does not mean, however, that I am not working hard to advocate to the Administration needed changes I am hearing from schools, parents, employers and employees. The unemployed are still waiting on IDES to resolve their issues, and many others.  Please, if you have feedback to share about concerns specific to your business as Phase 4 begins, I ask you to visit my website and complete the short survey here.

Advocating on behalf of Northwest Illinois is my distinct honor.  I will not give up this fight because I understand it is a fight for our livelihoods, for our families, and for our communities.