MORRISON – The region's small and mid-sized businesses will have an opportunity to help shape policy in Washington.
U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat from Illinois and member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, is seeking input to gauge the state of rural entrepreneurship and remove obstacles to rural growth.
In response to the senator's request, the Whiteside County Economic Development department is teaming up with Sauk Valley Community College and the Illinois Chamber of Commerce to gather information from area businesses.
Two meetings have been scheduled for July 13 – one at 10 a.m. at Sauk Valley Community College in Dixon, and another at 1:30 p.m. at Manny’s Too in Fulton.
Leaders attending these sessions will have a senator's ear – or rather, the ear of her general counsel, Erika Moritsugu. Duckworth won't be at the sessions, but Moritsugu will bee, and she'll pass along concerns to Duckworth, as well as input on initiatives being considered by the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee.
Moritsugu was a lobbyist with high-profile Washington firms before joining Duckworth's staff in January.
Gary Camarano, Whiteside County Economic Development director, said rural business owners often feel their voices aren't being heard and that the meetings will be "an excellent opportunity for our business community to identify their challenges, whether it's workforce-related, the regulatory environment – whatever the challenge – and suggest possible solutions."
Laura Ortega, executive director of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce's International Business Council, also will attend.
The meetings will allow rural small and mid-sized businesses to sound off on concerns, suggest solutions, and express opinions on policies that directly affect them, Ortega said.
"We view this as a great opportunity for businesses to connect with their legislators," she said in a news release. "We’ll collect the information and deliver it to Sen. Duckworth for use with the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship."
Camarano said his department will continue to work with the Illinois Chamber and other regional partners to advance the region's business interests.
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Businesses that would like to participate in either meeting should contact Sandy Prescott at email@example.com. or 815-772-5182.