Just as state economy of Illinois was slow to feel the effects of the Great Recession, so too has been slow to recover from it. Now, Illinois’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is submitting to the General Assembly a five-year plan that has suggestions for business growth.
The measures include doubling tax credits for the poor, and investing in major infrastructures and calling on lawmakers to support support existing business growth with incentives like tax breaks.
The plan also wants to raise Illinois’s minimum wage from $8.25 an hour to $10 an hour, which could prove to be a very effective strategy, according to Robert Bruno, a professor of labor and employment relations on the Urbana campus and the director of the Labor Education Program in Chicago.
“We analyzed the impact that raising the minimum wage has on employment, hours and income, and concluded that it’s the best way to reduce wage inequality, grow the state economy and ensure that workers are paid a wage that’s commensurate with the cost of living,” Bruno said. “And most importantly, we found that raising the minimum wage would have no discernible negative effect on total employment.”
According to Dave Roeder, a DCEO spokesperson, the future economic success of Illinois depends on focused business expansion — on job creation.
“Trying to poach business from another state is not a viable long-term strategy,” said Roeder. “Most of your growth comes from what you have already here. We have identified sectors where we are strong and we want to get stronger.”
In order to do this, Roeder believes that the state needs to change its business climate. In order to do that, the Illionis needs to market itself better to business, which would likely mean investing at least 20% of its resources into marketing strategies that would clue businesses in on the state’s advantages.
Roeder said, “We want to be sure we’re out there telling our story to businesses why they should be here in Illinois, what some of our main advantages are.”
The plan also has benchmark goals in place, like creating 75,000 new jobs in fiver years’ time. Whether or not those goals are met depends greatly on several factors, including whether or not lawmakers act on the plan’s suggestions.