Illinois Hosting February Events To Celebrate Black Businesses In Honor Of Black History Month – CBS Chicago

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The State of Illinois is hosting a series of events to celebrate Black History Month, and celebrate contributions Black businesses have made to the state’s economy.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Department of Central Management Services are teaming up with the Chicago Urban League and other community groups to host several programs focused on boosting Black- and minority-owned businesses.

“National Black History Month is an opportunity for all of us to seek a deeper understanding of Black history and experiences, laying the groundwork for more progress toward equity and freedom the rest of the year,” Gov. JB Pritzker said in a statement.

During February, the state will host a series of events on topics including: COVID-19 relief, access to capital, branding, grant applications, and a special panel focused on diversifying international trade.

Central Management Service’s Business Enterprise Program (BEP) also will participate in several events and offer training and technical assistance to business owners to assist them with certification options.

Upcoming events being hosted by DCEO, CMS, and its partners include the following.

Thursday, February 11, 2021, 10:00 A.M., Celebrating the History of Black Business: A Fireside Chat with Director Erin Guthrie
DCEO will convene a discussion with 8 accomplished small business owners from across the state to share their experiences during the pandemic, including barriers overcome and lessons learned to help more Black businesses thrive during the pandemic and beyond.

Thursday, February 11, 1:00 P.M., Fair Access to Justice | Diversity in Procurement (Part I)
CMS and DCEO will present a special two-part Fair Access to Justice Series, exploring diversity-related matters in procurement. This first series will offer attendees information on the certification process for the Business Enterprise Program (BEP) and guide small business owners to resources and other important information relative to doing business with the state of Illinois.

Thursday, February 18, 2021, 2:00 P.M., Black Access to Capital: How Black Economic Trailblazers are Closing the “Racial Wealth Gap” 
DCEO Director Guthrie will join Fifth Third Bank, the Chicago Urban League, 4S Bay Partners, and Black Chicago Pioneers for a panel discussion about ways to increase access to capital in Black communities, and solutions for addressing the equity gaps faced today.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021, 2:00 P.M., Black History Month: Opportunities in Trade and Overcoming Barriers 
DCEO’s Office of Minority Economic Empowerment (OMEE) and the International Trade Club of Chicago (ITCC) host a conversation about how to increase Black business participation in international trade, including through tools like the State’s I-STEP program, aimed at introducing more small and minority companies to the $62 billion dollar a year export market. Registration code: ITCCOMEE

Wednesday, February 24, 2021, 10:00 A.M., Advancing the Development of Minority Entrepreneurship (ADME): Longevity in Business
DCEO’s Office of Minority Economic Empowerment (OMEE) and the Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) will host a conversation on “Longevity in Business.” A panel of Black business owners from across the state will share insights and best practices for starting, growing, and maintaining a successful business for years to come.

Thursday, February 25, 2021, 1:00P.M. Fair Access to Justice | Diversity in Procurement (Part II)
CMS and DCEO will present a special two-part Fair Access to Justice Series, exploring diversity-related matters in procurement. This is the second conversation in the two-part series and will focus on how the State can continue to advance economic development in Black communities around Illinois by working alongside of community organizations dedicated to this advancement as well.

You can register on the DCEO website.

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