THRIVE could give small business an EDGE

ILLINOIS -- The clock is ticking for the state's leading tax break system.

The EDGE program gives tax breaks to large businesses which create and keep jobs in the state. By the end of April, it could be gone.

That's why lawmakers are ramping up what they're calling a new and improved version to let small businesses get in on the tax break perk.

For nearly two decades, big businesses in the state have reaped the benefits of the EDGE program. When a company hires more employees, it gets a tax break.

In total, the program has offered $1.3 million in tax credits. But, small businesses were left out of the equation. Now, a possible replacement, called THRIVE, could soon change that.

"The idea that it wouldn't be quite as difficult to hire somebody gives me the ability to go to the next level and that's what all business owners want."

Lina Renehan just opened an antique shop in November and has big plans.

"The idea of having a second store, or just being so good that I would be open seven days a week, not five."

She says THRIVE could do just that. The program has gained the support of Governor Bruce Rauner and several lawmakers. The idea is to also give small businesses the tools to grow.

"One small challenge businesses have when they're starting up is when is that great time to hire on more staff and acquire more talent? I think that would be a win-win for both the state and for companies."

Melissa Hamilton is a small business consultant in downtown Springfield.

"A lot of time, it's hard for small businesses to get resources for themselves."

She says it could give struggling owners the momentum to succeed.

"Big business is great. We need that, but small business is the base."

Another major difference for the THRIVE program cuts the tax break in half from 100% to 50%.   


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