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Mayor Rahm Emanuel today hosted a budget roundtable with local business leaders and Chicago small business owners to discuss efforts to make City Hall an active partner and more ways City Hall can work to cut red tape, lower costs for business owners and cultivate community partners that help small businesses get started and grow.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the lifeblood of our neighborhoods, accounting for nearly half of Chicago’s jobs and from day one City Hall has sought to serve as a partner to Chicago’s job creators, not an obstacle,” said Mayor Emanuel. “From launching the Small Business Center to eliminating the Head Tax, this administration has worked to foster the continued growth and independence of our small business community and I am committed to using every available tool to support their development.”
In March of 2013, Mayor Emanuel launched the City Hall Small Business Center (SBC) and a streamlining of permit and licensing reviews to provide small business owners and entrepreneurs a one stop shop resource to help launch and grow their business in Chicago. The City’s streamlining efforts resulted in launching a new Express Lane serving 25% of the SBC customers in 15 minutes or less. The express service enables customers to update account information, print a new license, renew a license, and apply for a peddler’s license quickly and efficiently.
Mayor Emanuel continues to streamline small business services to make it easier for owners to get started and succeed. Under his leadership, the City has reduced the number of business licenses from 117 to 49, a 60% decrease, which saved small businesses $700,000 in the first 6 months of 2013. Additionally, the Mayor created a restaurant start-up program, reducing the time to start a restaurant by 50% and increasing the efficiency of inspection visits.
Mayor Emanuel has also lowered the startup and operating costs for small business owners by starting to phase out the Head Tax. Chicago’s head tax required businesses with more than 50 employees to pay a tax of $4 dollars per employee. The phasing out this tax burden has already had an impact in the first stages, saving small businesses $2.4 million in the first half of 2013, with full year savings expected to be $4.8 million dollars. In 2014 when the head tax phase out is complete, small businesses in Chicago will see a savings of over $9.0 million dollars every year.
Today’s discussion was the second community roundtable the Mayor has hosted to discuss ideas for the 2014 budget with residents across the city. Last week, the Mayor hosted a discussion at Mary Lyon Elementary School with community residents and local business owners to discuss the issues affecting them and how they can be addressed in the 2014 budget.