Rep. Spain aims to level playing field between “Wall Street” and “Main Street”

Rep. Ryan Spain being interviewed at Hearthside Foods in Wenona following an Ameren Natural Gas service expansion project announcement on October 14, 2019.

Amid the ongoing economic stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic, State Representatives Ryan Spain and Mark Batinick 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.

“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.”

Rep. Batinick 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, believing 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 the legislators, 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.

Hearing the frustrations of local business owners in the 73rd District motivated Spain to work with Batinick in creating the Fair Business Act with support of local business owners.  “We are capable of opening safely. We are prepared to keep our teams safe and our customers even safer. We have the tools to sanitize, social distance, wear and provide protective equipment and are nimble enough to quickly change course should the pandemic call for it. It is time for small retail businesses to say WE ARE OPEN so you can come out and shop local,” said Bob Woolsey, owner of Jones Brothers Jewelers of Peoria.

Spain and Batinick’s legislation is currently being drafted, but has a growing number of co-sponsors including House Republican Reps. Tony McCombie, Keith Wheeler, Grant Wehrli and Dan Ugaste.