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The Chicago Shakedown: Why it's Impossible to Run a Business in the Windy City

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Despite repeated claims by President Obama that economic recovery is underway, the latest jobs numbers show that the recession is far from over. 

No one has felt the brunt of the lagging economy more than America’s small business owners.

Take a look at Istria Café in Obama’s Hyde Park neighborhood. Paul and Marc Pribaz opened the coffee and gelato shop in 2005. The café quickly became a community favorite and was ranked one of the best coffee shops in Chicago.

But the economy and overregulation have stifled the growth of Istria Café.

Chicago’s bureaucratic maze of paperwork (the City has over 70 different business permits to apply for), along with a corrupt city inspector system, has brought the Windy City’s economy to a halt.

The problem is not just unique to Chicago. Across the country, overregulation is suffocating small business. The National Federation of Independent Business lists “government regulation and red tape” as the number one problem facing small business owners. 

The Pribaz brothers recently sat down with me in their Hyde Park store and explained how regulations are destroying their ability to create jobs and stay profitable in the down economy.

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