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Rauner touts small businesses during tour of Addison factory

Published: Wednesday, July 9, 2014 8:13 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Erica Benson - ebenson@shawmedia.com)
Illinois Governor candidate Bruce Rauner (left) gets a tour of the family-owned business StandFast in Addison with the help of Vice President of Operations John Carman (center) and Operations Team Leader Tony Estephan while paying a visit Wednesday.

ADDISON – Illinois Republican Gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner promoted the role of small businesses in the state's economy during a recent visit to StandFast in Addison.

Rauner toured the factory and talked with leaders of the family-owned business Wednesday.

"We need more businesses like StandFast, growing and investing and hiring people in Illinois, so we're here to listen and learn," Rauner said.

John Carman founded StandFast, a packaging company, in 1967. Three of his sons, and even a grandson, have joined the family business.

StandFast's Vice President of Operations John Carman Jr. and Operations Team Leader Tony Estephan led Rauner through the South Church Street facility, where corrugated cardboard sheets are manufactured into boxes.

After the tour, Rauner used StandFast as an example of the small businesses he'd like to help grow in Illinois.

"If we had more businesses like StandFast in Illinois, we wouldn't have the highest unemployment rate in the Midwest anymore, and we wouldn't have the big deficits because it's businesses that pay taxes and that fund our government," Rauner said.

Rauner called prospering small businesses the "key to our future," in Illinois, and said if elected, he wants to improve the state's business environment.

"If we didn't have small businesses growing and thriving, we couldn't afford education or health care or anything else," Rauner said.

John Carman Jr. said StandFast is hiring, and is especially looking for veterans to work for the nearly-50-year-old company.

Part of Rauner's plan to generate more revenue for the state includes reducing tax rates and regulatory burdens for small businesses such as StandFast to grow business.

"If StandFast were able to triple their size over the next few years, we'd get more tax revenue from them even though their tax rates are lower," Rauner said.

When asked about a proposed $10 minimum wage for the state, Rauner said he could support a gradual minimum wage increase up to $10, only if done in conjunction with changes to workman's compensation, the tort system and regulations that would lower costs to businesses.

"Raising the minimum wage can help struggling families to make ends meet, but it can hurt small business owners and make them less profitable," said Rauner, adding businesses may then lay off workers or move out of state.

Rauner said he would also support raising the national minimum wage to Illinois' $8.25, so Illinois would be able to compete with other states for business.

"It's important that Illinois be competitive so small businesses can compete and generate the revenue and profits they need to be able to grow," Rauner said.

When asked about raising Chicago's minimum wage to $13, as Mayor Rahm Emanuel's task force recommended Monday, Rauner said he's focused on Illinois' competitiveness as a state, but expressed some concern.

"I'm worried that they may lose small businesses, and drive up ... unemployment [for] working families in Chicago," said Rauner.

Rauner said the visit to StandFast was one of hundreds of small business stops during his campaign.

"Small business is the backbone of Illinois' economy, and unfortunately, in Illinois, we've made it hard on small business owners," Rauner said.

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