The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) launched its annual Black History Month campaign – designed to honor and uplift the contributions of Black Illinoisians, business owners and leaders. As part of the month-long celebration, DCEO has launched a one-stop-shop webpage featuring events and resources, including a proclamation, resources to support Black-owned businesses, a social media toolkit, and more. This includes a new partnership with Urban Historian Shermann ‘Dilla’ Thomas designed to highlight the many contributions of Black Illinoisans and our history.
The 2023 theme “Roots and Achievement: Celebrating Black businesses in Illinois,” pays tribute to Illinois’ rich history of Black excellence and entrepreneurship among the State’s 141,000 Black-owned businesses.
“Black businesses and entrepreneurs play a crucial role in our State’s economy and we are proud to celebrate, honor and uplift their achievements during Black History Month and beyond,” said Acting DCEO Director Kristin A. Richards.
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.
“Black entrepreneurship is deeply rooted in Illinois’ history, from Jean Baptiste Point DuSable to Oprah Winfrey to the more than 140,000 Black businesses that serve as pillars of their communities across the State,” said Matthew J. Simpson, African American Business Development Manager. “With Black businesses contributing more than $1.8 billion to Illinois’ economy annually, we are proud to celebrate their achievements while providing support and services to help Black businesses grow and thrive.”
DCEO’s Black History Month campaign is led by the Office of Minority Economic Empowerment (OMEE). Throughout the year, OMEE works to create an inclusive business ecosystem for communities that have traditionally faced systemic challenges to growth, which includes Black business owners and entrepreneurs. Some key highlights from OMEE during the past year include:
• Hosted 30 events with more than 900 total participants;
• Regularly communicated updates, provided information on resources and events to more than
5,500 Black-owned businesses across the state; and
• Through the Illinois Black Business Collective (IBBC), convened more than 65 Black business development organizations from across Illinois to help find ways to best support Black entrepreneurs. IBBC was created by DCEO and membership grew from 50 to 65 member organizations over the last year.
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 [email protected]
***Courtesy of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services***