JB’s Priorities for Economic Stability

One of my most important goals as the next governor of Illinois will be to create jobs and restore economic stability and vibrancy to the hardest hit communities in our state. If we improve the prospects for economic prosperity of a community, we can create greater stability for our children and families and reduce the potential for violence. By increasing access to capital, training, and mentorship for small business owners and entrepreneurs, we can create jobs in communities that need it the most. I believe we can and must accomplish this goal, especially for Illinois’ black and brown communities.

We must undo the harm caused by Bruce Rauner’s failed leadership and systemic disinvestment in Illinois’ communities. We can do this by empowering local community lenders and small business owners, and establishing innovative financing models that increase and expand access to capital to those who need it the most.

I am committed to working with leaders, like Kurt Summers, who have fought to expand economic opportunity for the people of our state. Together, we can achieve these goals if we:

Restore and Expand Small Business Development Centers Across the State.

Before Bruce Rauner took office, Illinois’ Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) were considered best in class. These centers provide critical guidance and training for small business owners. Unfortunately, due to Bruce Rauner’s failed leadership, one-quarter of the SBDCs in this state have closed due to lack of funding. This has had a detrimental impact on job creation. The Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO) noted that due to the work of SBDCs, 2,504 jobs were created and 3,114 jobs were retained in FY15. However, under Rauner, this year’s estimate has decreased by nearly half, as only 1,200 new jobs will be created and 1,600 retained. I will fully fund small business development centers, restore them to their prime, and expand their impact. I will build on their success to support innovative training and mentorship opportunities for aspiring small business owners across the state.


Empower Under-Served Communities by Giving Them a Seat at the Table.

I will convene Community Development Financial Institutions, community leaders, SBDC staff, labor, and small business owners across the state to discuss job creation, access to capital, glean best practices, and give community leaders a voice in developing economic plans that are responsive to the unique needs of their community. I will leverage my experience spearheading the state’s most successful technology innovation hub – 1871 – to better inform this discussion and scale up strategies that work.


Reenvision Investment Incentives for Distressed Communities.

State enterprise zones are designed to stimulate economic growth, which drives job creation and revitalizes distressed communities.  In the first 100 days of my administration, I will convene state, county, labor, and local leaders to undertake a deep review of the State Enterprise Zone Program to ensure that we are doing all that we can to effectively funnel incentives and resources to the communities that need them the most and that we are creating jobs as a result.


End the Rauner Era of Systemic Disinvestment through innovative funding models

Communities hit hardest by the recent economic downturn remain under assault by Donald Trump and Bruce Rauner.  Under Bruce Rauner, social service and community investment programs across the state have been slashed.  Even worse, Donald Trump has proposed complete disinvestment in community development programs. I will fight to maintain federal funding and incentivize greater private investment. I will also work with state and federal officials to establish innovative financial partnerships that leverage successful development programs like the Small Business Investment Company program and the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund tax credit and grant programs. Finally, I will empower community stakeholders in the design of these programs.


Small businesses employ approximately 2.4 million people in Illinois, that’s nearly 46% of the private workforce. In order to restore economic stability and vibrancy to underserved communities, small business development must be a core solution.  That means expanding access to capital for small business owners and entrepreneurs, providing training and mentorship, and incentivizing investment.

I remain dedicated to the revitalization of all communities across Illinois, and the programs above represent one important aspect of my economic development plan.

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