Chicago Barrier Study

Regulatory Field; Home of Chicago Laws

Burdensome Laws Strike Out Chicago Entrepreneurs

By Elizabeth Milnikel & Emily Satterthwaite

May 2009

  Designed to Exclude

In Chicago, and all across the United States, we rely on the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things.  We rely on inventive entrepreneurs who have a bright vision for the future.  We rely on them to turn the wheels of the economy by creating new jobs for themselves and others, and sometimes even by creating entire new industries.  And, in a humbler fashion, we rely on people who have trouble finding work to figure out a way to make a living and to be self-sufficient.  
Yet, in spite of the importance of small businesses to Chicago, there are myriad laws on the books that make it difficult—sometimes even impossible—for people to start new enterprises. Instead of a navigable system designed to make sure businesses meet reasonable health and safety standards, the overlapping rules of the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois create a matrix that is so confusing and nonsensical that it often seems designed to stop entrepreneurs in their tracks.
In this report, we describe some of the excessive legal requirements that confront entrepreneurs in Chicago, focusing on onerous restrictions on the very occupations that most people expect to be open to people of all backgrounds and all income levels.  We urge government officials, legislators and citizens to demand a repeal of these legal requirements, which constrain people’s futures without doing anything to protect the public’s health or safety.  By truly opening Chicago to small businesses that are competing to serve their customers’ needs, we will ensure that our city of neighborhoods flourishes.  We will free people to pursue their dreams and create new ways to maximize their talents.  And we will have a city that really works.  Read More

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