FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2/1/2022

 ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY HONORS BLACK HISTORY MONTH

State honors contributions of Black businesses and entrepreneurs in Illinois during Black History Month with a proclamation, events and more

CHICAGO –The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) today kicks off Black History Month with a proclamation and a series of events to honor the important contributions of Black entrepreneurs and business owners, and to promote efforts to support their continued growth.  

DCEO's Office of Minority Economic Empowerment (OMEE), alongside community and civic groups, such as the Chatham Business Association and the Cook County Black Chamber of Commerce, will host and participate in events focused on supporting Black businesses in Illinois by providing information on resources, professional development, and networking opportunities.   

During Black History Month, DCEO is honoring Illinois' 132,000 Black-owned businesses which comprise eleven percent of all businesses in the state. Many business owners of color have historically experienced challenges in accessing capital and other key business resources. DCEO's top priority is to create an equitable business environment through targeted initiatives and resources designed for businesses owned by people of color.  

"During Black History Month, DCEO will be highlighting the important role Black-owned businesses play every day in Illinois' dynamic economy.  We will be convening important conversations about accessing state resources to help Black-owned businesses grow and thrive," said Acting Director of DCEO, Sylvia I. Garcia. "Black-owned businesses employ over 175,000 Illinoisans and generate $8 billion in economic activity in our state each year." 

DCEO, through its Office of Minority Economic Empowerment (OMEE), will spotlight Black businesses across the state and highlight the contributions of DCEO's Black leaders. Throughout the year, OMEE works to create an inclusive business ecosystem for communities that have traditionally faced systemic challenges to entry and growth, which includes Black business owners and entrepreneurs. Some key highlights from OMEE during the past year include:

  • Hosted 55 webinars geared toward Black businesses with more than 1,300 participants;
  • Regularly communicated updates, provided information on resources and events to nearly 5,000 Black-owned businesses across the state;
  • Through the Illinois Black Business Collective (IBBC), once per quarter convened more than 50 Black business development organizations from across Illinois to help find ways to best support Black entrepreneurs. IBBC was created by DCEO; and  
  • Launched the first of its kind statewide Black Business Survey, in partnership with Chicago State University and the Chicago Urban League, to solicit feedback directly from Black-owned businesses. 

"Black History Month provides us an opportunity to reflect on achievements of Black leaders and business owners and how they are a part of the backbone of this country," said Blevian Moore, Executive Director of the South Holland Business Association. "Here in Illinois, we are advancing our legacy together as part of Illinois' Black Business Collective (IBBC), a group that is working diligently to make a difference to build an economic foundation for equality and growth in our state."

Black History Month Events

All events are free to attend; additional information and registration can be found on the DCEO website. Additional events are expected to be added throughout the month.   

Event Name: Advancing the Development of Minority Entrepreneurship (ADME): Health and Beauty is Big Business
Event Date/Time: Wednesday, February 9, 2022, 10am – 11:30am  
Event Location: Virtual
DescriptionOMEE and Illinois Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) will host a panel with health and beauty industry leaders to share their expertise on how business owners can continue to grow their industry.

Event Name: Black Future Month: How the Black Community Can Secure Its Economic Future in Illinois
Event Date/Time
: Wednesday, February 23, 2022, 10am – 2pm
Event Location: In-Person, Presentation and Business Expo, South Suburban College, 15800 South State Street, South Holland
Description: The state of IL offers many resources that can be leveraged to support the growth and advancement of Black businesses. Join us for a panel featuring leaders discussing the current state and future of Black businesses. Following the panel, businesses are encouraged to visit the Business Resource Expo to learn more about financial tools, business development resources and grant opportunities available to help Illinois businesses.
Participants: Small Business Administration (SBA), IL Business Enterprise Program (BEP), IL Office of Minority Economic Empowerment (OMEE), Chatham Business Association, Chicago Southland EDC, IL Regional Economic Development (Team RED), Cook County Black Chamber of Commerce, South Suburban Economic Growth Initiative, Advantage Illinois, Small Business Development Centers (SBDC),  IL Office of Accountability, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Businesses Initiative, Greenwood Archer Capital  

The Illinois Office of Minority Economic Empowerment (OMEE) plays a crucial role in providing support to minority-owned businesses of all sizes and types, including connection with grants, technical assistance, and incentives to bolster minority entrepreneurs and minority-owned enterprises. For more information on Illinois Black History Month events planned for businesses, please contact Matthew J. Simpson, the African American Business Development Manager, at Matthew.Simpson@illinois.gov.