PLAINFIELD—Amid the ongoing economic stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic, State Representatives Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) and Ryan Spain (R-Peoria) are filing legislation to help support small businesses.
The legislation, called the Fair Business Treatment Act, proposes small businesses be given the same opportunities that larger, big box stores currently have. The Representatives have been strong advocates for small businesses in their communities, and believe there is a huge disparity in allowing large retail stores to sell items available at local small businesses—but preventing small businesses from opening.
Rep. Batinick, who has been vocal since the start of this pandemic in preventing big box stores from monopolizing sales at the expense of small shops on Main Street, believes small businesses offer an even safer environment for consumers.
“It’s simply not fair,” said Batinick. “If a product is going to be allowed to be sold in a community, why would you want everyone in the community going to the same crowded building? If people are going to buy those products, it is better to spread them out.”
According to Batinick, small businesses can provide a safer environment for consumers to shop—compared to the high traffic volumes larger stores are experiencing right now. “This regulation right now doesn’t promote safety, it is creating a situation where large corporate giants are cannibalizing smaller retailers,” Batinick continued.
In a recent statewide poll conducted by Ogden and Fry, Illinois residents strongly support opening small retail businesses, if they follow the same social distancing requirements as big box stores. Of the 493 polled, 75% agreed that small retail stores should be open.
Hearing the frustrations of local business owners in the 97th District has motivated Batinick to back the Fair Business Act. Local business leaders are ready to open, abide by safety protocols, and provide for their community. Tasha Marsaglia, Executive Director of the Plainfield Chamber of Commerce, said “Our customers aren’t just a number on a spread sheet. Our customers are our friends, neighbors and family—we will do everything in our power to keep them safe.”
Representative Spain echoed that sentiment. “Small retail business should be allowed to open as long as they follow the same social distancing requirements that big box stores have to follow,” said Spain. “To not allow them to do so safely compromises the integrity of this Executive Order and simply creates more big box winners and shutters more mom-and-pop independent businesses. If this crisis has taught us anything, it is that Illinois’ strength is our “Main Street” products and services. If we don’t act to save them now, there will be little left to save.”
Batinick and Spain’s legislation is currently being drafted, but has a growing number of co-sponsors including House Republican Reps. Tony McCombie (R-Savanna), Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego), Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) and Dan Ugaste (R-Geneva).