A new report on the business climate across the country has given Illinois a failing grade. The website Thumbtack and the Kauffman Foundation conducted a survey and asked thousands of small business owners about the various business regulations in their respective states and then applied a letter grade to their states.
Not surprisingly, Illinois is one of only six states to receive a failing grade.
It seems like every time there is a list about jobs and a state’s business climate – Illinois is either at or near the bottom of that list. It is difficult to get a small business up and running but in Illinois the difficult is nearly the impossible.
There are many factors for the bad business climate in Illinois but one factor that cannot be overlooked is the state’s litigation climate. Illinois is ranked 46th out of 50 states for legal fairness. The lack of legal fairness is driving jobs and opportunities to other states. Just in the last few years more than 40 Illinois companies have moved all or part of their operations to Indiana, which has produced more than 3,600 new jobs in Indiana.
Surrounding states such as Indiana and Wisconsin have all made lawsuit reform a priority and as a result, they are adding jobs while Illinois continues to shed jobs. The situation in Illinois is so bad that according to a recent Gallup survey, half of all Illinoisans would leave the state if they could.
Illinois’ status as the “Lawsuit Abuse Capital of the Midwest,” is especially tough for small businesses. Small businesses cannot afford to absorb unwarranted legal challenges. One abusive lawsuit can put a small business owner out of business. More than one third of all small owners have been sued at one time or another and seven in ten small business owners say that a lawsuit would force them to reduce benefits for current employees and would cause them to hold back hiring new ones.
In other words, lawsuits limit job growth and job creation. This is why Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch has launched a statewide “Small Business Summer” tour to focus attention on the challenges small businesses face as a result of lawsuit abuse. The purpose of the summer tour is to raise awareness about how lawsuit abuse hurts small businesses and ultimately hurts the Illinois economy.
Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. More than two-thirds of all new jobs are created by small business owners.
Policymakers have a lot of ideas on how to help small businesses, but they too frequently neglect to consider the role of legal reforms in improving our economy. Every year, lawsuit reforms that would benefit small businesses across the state are introduced and every year our legislative leaders make sure these bills never see the light of day.
It is time for our state leaders to finally listen to small business owners and stop the abuse of our courts. We need jobs – not lawsuits. Let’s put Illinois back to work by empowering small businesses.
Todd Akin is Executive Director Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch.