Illinois Chambers of Commerce speak out on minimum wage increases

Business owners react to Illinois minimum wage hike

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (KFVS) - Carbondale and Marion Chambers of Commerce both joined the statewide call for employer protections before Illinois lawmakers officially vote to raise the minimum wage.

Tyler Diers, the Director of Legislative Relations Illinois Chamber of Commerce, sent out an update calling for people to take action.

On February 15, the minimum wage increase to be phased in over the next six years was passed out of the Senate.

Diers says the Senate did not consider their recommendation.

“Unfortunately, the Senate did not grant the business community’s request of a proposed geographical minimum wage that would soften the blow to suburban and downstate communities," said Diers.

With the Senate’s approval, the bill now heads to the House for a committee vote and eventual floor vote.

“It’s imperative that members focus their advocacy efforts on your state representatives and tell them to vote no on any increase in the minimum wage without any protections for job creators,” Diers said.

Marion Chamber of Commerce forwarded that same letter to their local businesses. In addition, Carbondale Chamber of Commerce chimed in on February 13.

A letter from the President and CEO Jennifer Olson said:

“While we certainly empathize with the plight of the working poor, and understand the need for a livable wage, the result of this requirement places a sizable liability on our businesses, large and small. Doing business in Illinois presents many challenges for businesses as it is; the timing and pace for this accelerated law [as currently proposed] is unacceptable. As a Chamber of Commerce, we simply cannot support placing this sizable burden on the employers of our region.”

Local small business owners worry the southern part of the state could be hit the hardest.

Two Guys Pizza in Carbondale has been open for five months. The co-owner and manager Larry Hooker says he believe it will impact businesses like his.

“I just see us having to eventually cut staffing down, then eventually maybe having to close your doors, that’s a lot of labor," Hooker said. “It’s a lot of money that has to come out of somewhere.”

Priority Staffing Group in southern Illinois took it a step further and sent this letter to the state representatives about her concerns.

Gail Barger Lannom is the President of the company and agrees with the Diers.

“I’m not totally against it, but I think they’re being a little too drastic with the plan,” she said.

Lannom is also the Chair of the Marion Chamber of Commerce, however, on behalf of her business she said, “They are trying to rush this through without looking at all of the ripple effect that’s going to happen with everybody in the state.”

Hooker also agrees, he says he hopes lawmakers think about the small businesses like his.

“Maybe not try to push it in three to five years, like i said, push it a little longer," Hooker said. "Because the economy’s got to grow with it. otherwise there’s just going to be a lot of business that’s not going to be there anymore.”

Lannom says her company sent a confidential survey to more than 50 businesses to gauge the impact on her employers. In the letter to legislators, she says her employers would be “highly impacted."

A vote by the full House could come as early as Thursday, Feb. 14

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