State of Illinois to celebrate Black business month in August

State of Illinois to celebrate Black business month in August

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WIFR) – To honor the contributions of Black-owned businesses across the state, the celebration of Black Business Month will highlight a series of events and initiatives taking place throughout the month of August.

This month-long celebration includes collaborations with community leaders, organizations, and business enterprises throughout the state, inviting Illinoisans to “Shop Black-owned Business Saturdays,” as well as discussing opportunities for the community to access the upcoming “Back to Business” recovery assistance program through the ARPA. The State of Illinois, with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) made the announcement on Monday.

“Supporting Black business owners and entrepreneurs is important for the health of our communities and for restoring the Illinois economy following the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gov. Pritzker said. “Since day one of my administration, we have committed to creating an inclusive business ecosystem, centered around equitable access to opportunities and resources. This guiding principle has been incredibly important given the profound impact the pandemic has had on minority and economically depressed communities and businesses. During Black Business Month, and throughout the year, I encourage all Illinoisans to join me in supporting Black-owned business and celebrating the immeasurable contributions and the critical role they play in our economy.”

While Illinois has more than 132,000 Black-owned business, comprising 11 percent of all Illinois businesses, these business owners have historically experienced barriers in accessing capital and other key business resources. As part of a month-long celebration, DCEO and several partner organizations will host a series of virtual events, exploring resources available to grow your business, and to navigate the impacts of the pandemic. All events are free to attend, and information and registration can be found on the DCEO website.

• Aug. 11: Advancing the Development of Minority Entrepreneurship (ADME): Achieving Success with the Illinois SBDC Network

Presented by DCEO and the Illinois SBDC Network, Advancing the Development of Minority Entrepreneurship (ADME) is a workshop for business owners to learn more about the State’s expansive business development center network – one of the largest in the nation with over 40 SBDCs, 9 PTACs, 9 ITCs. During this panel, business owners can learn how these community centers which are available on a year round basis can support new and existing businesses take their vision to the next level with planning, technical assistance, marketing, and more – all at no cost. To register, (LINK HERE).

• Aug. 18: Navigating the Pandemic: Resources to Help Black Businesses Survive and Thrive

DCEO-OMEE will host a group of business leaders to discuss how to leverage funding and grant opportunities to get on the road to recovery from the pandemic. Attendees will learn about technical support offered through community navigators who are on the ground listening and responding to your needs. To register, (LINK HERE).

• Aug. 25: Building Back Better: Charting Economic Recovery for the Black Business Community & Crafting the Roadmap for Access to Capital for Black Entrepreneurs

DCEO is teaming up with Groupon and community leaders to host a conversation with Acting DCEO Director Sylvia Garcia and leaders in business around access to capital and how they can foster an ecosystem of success. Also joining are Ron Busby, President, US Black Chamber of Commerce; Don Thompson, Founder and CEO, Cleveland Avenue; Eva Brown, Segment Leader, U.S Bank; Don Cravins, COO, National Urban League; Stephen Davis, Founder and Chairman, The Will Group. To register, (LINK HERE).

DCEO is leading the charge to encourage Illinoisans to “Shop Black-owned Business Saturdays.” Groupon is supporting this initiative, by featuring Black-owned businesses on their platform, providing shoppers an opportunity to support and learn more about businesses in their community and beyond. Groupon will also be providing a chance for business merchants to engage in all the resources available to expand their cliental reach through their business resource platform.

Over the past year and a half, DCEO has made available more than $1 billion in economic assistance for businesses and communities so far. This includes over $290 million and 9,000 business grants provided so far – including a record 40 percent of grants extended to minority owned businesses. DCEO will again issue economic recovery dollars with the launch of the $250 million Back 2 Business programs, set to launch in the coming weeks.

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