Anna Aguillard Sep. 30, 2015, 12:08pm


On Sept. 15, the Southwestern Illinois Employers Association (SIEA) sponsored a forum of local business owners and state officials to address their concerns with legislation under review in Springfield and Washington, D.C.

The gathering included Gov. Bruce Rauner, U.S. Congressmen Rodney Davis and Michael Bost, state Sen. David Luechtefeld, and state Reps. Dwight Kay, C.D. Davidsmeter and Avery Bourne.

“The vast majority of the concerns that we have as businesses is that the business climate in the state of Illinois is not conducive for attracting new businesses, or keeping the businesses that are here in the state,” said SIEA Executive Director Mike Walters.

Walters identified one major concern shared among local business owners – the cost of workers’ compensation.

“It has to change,” said Walters. “We are looking into workers comp, and other reforms, to bring back the half million jobs that have left the state in the past 12 years. It’s costing businesses too much to stay in the state.”

Elected officials took note of the concerns of the more than 20 local businesses that participated in the forum. Among those that benefit from the gathering was Dwight Werts, owner and president of Werts Welding and Tank Service.

“The direct contact we had with elected officials is critical for my company. Hearing first-hand how elected leaders are supporting legislative change, which would allow Illinois businesses to compete with out-of-state companies, is encouraging,” said Werts.

The SIEA is a nonprofit association of diverse businesses and agencies located throughout the southwest region of Illinois. Government legislators frequently call the SIEA upon it business and economic issues.

“The mutual respect and trust we share is invaluable,” said Sen. Luechetefeld. “I am always confident that [the SIEA] is faithfully representing member organizations – their concerns, their needs, and their desire to be productive and successful businesses for the state of Illinois."

“I hope this event becomes an annual SIEA tradition,” said Werts.

Upcoming SIEA events include its annual dinner meeting on Nov. 5 and its executive board meeting on Dec.1. To learn more about the benefits of membership, and to meet current members, the SIEA invites employers to attend the dinner meeting.

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