You already know why voting is important: it gives you a voice on issues, and it helps to hold your elected officials accountable. There’s an extra dimension when you’re a business owner, though. Political advocacy can ensure that legislators understand what’s important to your business and for economic development in our region. This is an area, though, where strength in numbers matters—which is why advocacy is such an important aspect of membership in GOA Regional Business Association.
The power of small business
Small businesses power our economy. According to the Small Business Administration, as of late 2021 there are 32.5 million businesses in the US with 500 or fewer employees—the agency’s definition of a small business. These businesses employ nearly 47% of the private-sector workforce nationwide. This collective influence could be used for the betterment of business and our communities through advocacy—if only small business owners were as politically organized and influential as many other issue-voter groups (think unions, Wall Street, and others).
The importance of advocacy for business
Why is political advocacy for business so important?
Simply put, engaging in advocacy can have a direct effect on our local business community—and on individual company bottom lines. Consider, for instance, how the shift to remote work in the pandemic era has untethered so many workers from offices. Many employees have a newfound freedom of choice in where they live, so they can make decisions based on lifestyle, geographic preferences, or area infrastructure and amenities. This can lead to talent loss in certain areas. But legislation, for instance, can strengthen state investments in infrastructure and education, helping make states attractive places to live and work. It may be a general example, but it can help to illustrate how politics can influence a business-friendly environment. There are also specific examples in which legislation can directly affect the business friendliness of the area, from issues like legalization of marijuana and sports betting to noise-mitigation policies in areas adjacent to airports.
How to become more active in political advocacy for business
As noted above, effective advocacy depends in large part on strength in numbers. This is where membership in an organization like GOA can be indispensable in advocacy.
GOA engages in political advocacy for and with our members through GOA Government Affairs. We focus on:
Knowledge is power. Business owners need useful information from trusted sources—like GOA—on political issues that will impact economic growth within our northern Illinois region. With so much divisive rhetoric and polarization in today’s political climate, it can be challenging to find a reliable source. To this end, GOA Government Affairs provides informative programs to the communities we serve—making us a trusted source on current and future issues and legislation at both state and national levels.
Creating position statements
Awareness is one thing. Action is another. When appropriate, GOA Government Affairs creates position statements on state and national issues. These position statements reflect the consensus of our organization, always in support of our members and the business community. These can provide consistent talking points for advocacy with your legislators.
In addition, we offer easy access to tools that connect you with your elected officials and that provide visibility into key legislation that will be coming up for a vote in the Illinois House or Senate.
Establish and expand alliances
Back to that strength in numbers bit: through GOA Government Affairs, we work to create and expand political alliances aligned with our association values. These alliance-building efforts benefit member companies and businesses within the region, bringing together our members and communities to amplify our voices or, when necessary, to apply political pressure to key legislation.
Political advocacy is important to build or improve a business-friendly environment and promote economic development that ultimately benefits us all. If you’ve been considering how to become more involved in political advocacy for the business community, we welcome you to join us through GOA.