Governor Pat Quinn today addressed the Eighth Annual Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce Convention and signed a new law that will support and strengthen small and minority-owned businesses in Illinois. Governor Quinn made this issue a priority in his 2013 State of the State address, and this new law is part of his agenda to make business opportunities available to everyone in Illinois and drive the state's economy forward.
"I applaud the work of the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce and share their commitment to promoting the development and growth of minority-owned businesses across our state," Governor Quinn said. "Our collaborative efforts to expand opportunities for small and minority-owned businesses are critical to driving the state's economy forward and ensuring the long-term prosperity of our communities."
Senate Bill 572, sponsored by State Senator Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) and State Representative La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago), creates the Illinois Small Business and Workforce Development Task Force to identify issues of importance to small business with a focus on issues of critical importance to the minority-owned business community, including increasing access to capital funding, understanding of procurement for greater contracting opportunity, and workforce development. The task force will make recommendations that can be addressed by the Illinois General Assembly, submitting its first report by the end of November 2013.
"As chairman of the Illinois House's Small Business Empowerment and Workforce Development Committee, I know how important it is that every effort be made to strengthen businesses and grow jobs in Illinois," Representative Ford said. "Illinois has many valuable assets available to improve our revenue problem and move our state forward. Our universities are some of our most valuable resources available for research and leadership. This task force will be led by the chairman of the University of Illinois' board of trustees, and I am confident that he will make sound and meaningful recommendations for policies to help make Illinois stronger."
Senate Bill 572 takes effect immediately.
At the Black Chamber of Commerce Convention, Governor Quinn also discussed House Bill 3267, a new law supported by the Governor that creates the Disadvantaged Business Revolving Loan Program. This program allows the Illinois Department of Transportation to make low-interest loans to certified minority- and female-owned businesses that have construction contracts with the agency.
Senate Bill 2320, another law recently signed by the Governor, allows businesses that are owned by females who are also minorities to be certified as both "female-owned businesses" and "minority-owned businesses." Previously, when participating in state contracts, a firm had to choose one designation or the other. This law will directly increase the pool of vendors in both categories and increase the chance these firms have of participating in state contracts.
Earlier this year, Governor Quinn directed the Illinois Finance Authority to develop the Small Contractor Bridge Program in partnership with the Chicago Community Loan Fund. The program fills a gap in the market, helping credit-disadvantaged businesses compete for projects and boosting economic development across Illinois by pairing essential infrastructure improvements with support for small contractors.
In addition to these new laws and programs, Governor Quinn has appointed members of the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce to key state advisory positions. Larry Ivory of Peoria, President, CEO and Founder of the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce, serves on the Business Enterprise Council as well as the Procurement Policy Board. Rev. Arthur Gass Sr. of Waukegan, Chairman of the Black Chamber, serves on the African American Employment Plan Advisory Council, as does Chamber board member Irene Brown from Peoria.
The Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to the empowerment of black entrepreneurs across Illinois and supports job creation by helping members to strengthen their businesses and hire workers in their communities. The Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce is the leading voice of the black business community in the State of Illinois. For more information, visit www.ilbcc.org.