By Brian Novak
When I co-founded a legal design firm, VisualPix, LLC, creating courtroom graphics and marketing plans several years ago, I learned that the struggles of owning and operating a small business are many – especially in a tough economy. And as a former attorney for a multinational property management company, I also learned that strategic planning is necessary to succeed in business.
I believe that my business expertise and experience are unique among those running for Village Trustee in the upcoming elections for the Skokie Village Board. This experience and expertise will enable me, as Village Trustee, to be an effective change agent for economic development in Skokie.
As a member of the Village of Skokie Consumer Affairs Commission and Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Task Force, I have tackled issues related to economic development in our community. I have met with local business leaders and listened to their concerns.
They know, as I do, that a thriving business community is imperative for the vitality of our community overall. As residents we also know the effect that a higher Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) and the reduced property-tax assessments on empty stores have on our property tax bills*. When we see vacant storefronts and dilapidated buildings in the Village while our own property taxes are on the rise, we wonder: How are Village leaders addressing these problems?
Skokie needs strong leaders who have experience running businesses and who know how to create and nurture the environment necessary for their success. Our community needs leaders who know that economic development requires more than simple proactive promotion.
And why when we talk about economic development, does the conversation not include manufacturing, financial services and other high paying industries in addition to retail? When a business like Klein Tools or the Reznick Group decide to take their 175 and 75 jobs respectively out of our community we all pay more.
As Village Trustee I will take a lead role in developing a comprehensive and strategic economic development plan for Skokie that focuses on creating jobs and growing the revenue base of the Village while adapting to and preparing for changes in the marketplace as our community continues to evolve and become more diverse. Specifically, I will focus on removing longstanding impediments to the success of existing businesses and Skokie’s ability to attract new businesses, which include antiquated ordinances such as minimum parking requirements for businesses, and cumbersome bureaucratic procedures that limit the types of stores in downtown.
The strategic economic development plan will include a manual for new businesses that clarifies Village processes and procedures and an evaluation of downtown parking regulations and comparisons with similar communities. In this way we can better respond to the needs of our community and businesses.
My fresh perspective for Skokie has received significant support from many community business leaders and residents. As Village Trustee I will work with and support community partners including the Chamber of Commerce, the Independent Merchants of Downtown Skokie (IMODS) and the Dempster Street Merchants Association.
When Evanston gets a Trader Joes and Skokie gets a pawn shop, something is wrong. When a thriving business has difficulty overcoming Village-imposed impediments to maximizing use of its space, something needs to change. And when Village government no longer responds to residents and business owners as needed, then it is time to vote for change!
I am asking for your support. Vote Brian Novak, independent candidate for Village Trustee, on Election Day, April 9. To learn more about my candidacy, please visit my website at www.novakforskokie.com.
*A tax bill is formulated by taking the aggregate of all the taxing agencies and multiplying that by the EAV.