A business-friendly climate, investment in infrastructure and support for economic growth top the list of issues the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce said it will push with legislators in 2013.|
"We've met with hundreds of area business leaders and economic development professionals in the past year, and the legislative priorities we've set forth are those that business leaders believe will facilitate job creation and strengthen the business environment in our bi-state region," chamber CEO Tara Barney said.
The chamber wants Congress and the administration to adopt policies to spur economic growth and to avoid sequestration, support advanced manufacturing initiatives, invest in transportation and bolster the growing local defense industry.
"The Rock Island Arsenal provides approximately 8,000 jobs, with an additional 6,000 defense-related jobs off the island," said chamber executive Vice President Paul Rumler. "The defense industry in the Quad-Cities is significant not only to our local economy but to our national security."
The chamber is urging Illinois lawmakers to stabilize the state budget by tackling pension reform and focusing spending on initiatives that produce the greatest return in terms of job creation and private investment.
Business leaders want legislators to maintain and expand economic development incentives, support the state's defense industry and complete capital improvements on the Interstate 74 and John Deere Road corridor, Chicago/Quad-Cities Passenger Rail and WIU-QC's Phase 2 and 3 plans.
"Most importantly, we hope our legislators acknowledge that current public employee pension systems are unsustainable and must be restructured to curb excessive long-term costs to residential and commercial taxpayers," Ms. Barney said.
The chamber is asking Iowa lawmakers to maintain the state's balanced budget, grow Iowa's economy by reducing the commercial and industrial property tax burden, reform public employee pensions, do tax reform,maintain and expand economic development incentives, bolster workforce initiatives and invest in transportation and infrastructure to promote balanced growth in border communities.
The chamber said it will continue to work with city and county governments to advance economic growth and expand the local tax base. In 2012, there were 132 ribbon cuttings representing $157,784,000 in new business investment.
In 2012, the chamber said in Illinois, it advocated for Medicaid reform, extension of Enterprise Zones, the Illinois Capital Plan Renewal, procurement reform and the Hiring Veterans Tax Credit, all of which were passed. Comprehensive pension reform and workers' comprehensive reform also were priorities but did not pass. They are on the docket for 2013.
In Iowa, the chamber advocated to expand and maintain economic development incentives and tools, for commercial and industrial property tax reform, to support education and workforce development and for increased awareness of the region's defense industry. All made strides in 2012 but commercial and industrial property tax relief, which remains a top priority for 2013.
The chamber is hosting an Illinois legislative forum on Jan. 18 and monthly Iowa legislative luncheons on the third Friday in January, February and March. On Jan. 23, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad will give a State of the State address in Davenport.
The chamber will host its annual Quad Cities Day in Des Moines on Feb. 6-7 and Springfield on March 19-20. It will take an annual trip to Washington, D.C., with local business and civic leaders Feb. 27 through March 1.
For more information, visit QuadCitiesChamber.com/government-affairs.
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