Bringing green to the Illinois business economy

By WEEK Producer
By Mark Bullion

January 7, 2013 Updated Jan 7, 2013 at 10:57 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce members got the chance Monday morning to talk business with the State's Chamber president and a representative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The economic forecast for Illinois this year, according to experts, is looking rather dreary with a 100 percent chance of increased debt.
That's if the state's finances are not turned around.

According to the Illinois Chamber of Commerce President, fiscal integrity including pension reform are key issues, as well as a new capital funding bill for roads and bridges set to expire next year.

"I try to remind legislators and the public there's a significant difference between capital funding and operating funding," said Doug Whitley, President and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. "We definitely have an operating budget problem in Springfield and we hope that the General Assembly and democratically controlled legislature will begin to put the squeeze on fundable spending."

However, the clouds of political turmoil have overshadowed what one expert says needs to be done.

"Taxes and spending eat up a lot of the air in the room of whats going on in Congress, and we're seeing that in Springfield, too," said Cholly Smith of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, "and we're seeing that in D.C., but a lot of what we're doing from a Chamber's perspective is were trying to push the idea of growth as an option, too."

One area of growth is green energy, which could bring more green to Springfield.

"In the next seven years alone, natural gas and oil exploration could deliver up to 1.3 to 1.7 million jobs, and what that means for governments is from the Federal Government down to the State of Illinois is more tax revenue," continued Smith.

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