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Capacity Building Initiative Helps Minority Businesses Throughout Illinois

Illinois Black Chamber Workshop Photo 2The Illinois State Black Chamber of Commerce (ILBCC), affiliate Chambers from around the state, and the Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO) are working together to assist minority businesses throughout Illinois with improving their capacity and gaining procurement opportunities throughout the country. “The basic mission of this program”, said President/CEO Larry D. Ivory “is to create and promote a climate where African-American and other minority businesses and industry can operate in a productive and profitable manner, stimulating economic growth and development within the entire community.” Since 2014, the chambers have been working with DCEO through a Capacity Building Initiative (CBI) to help small and medium-sized minority companies with developing their businesses and with finding more and new opportunities from state and local government and Corporate America.

Workshop Photo 3Minority businesses, tradesmen, and entrepreneurs if given access to the right resources,” states Mic Williams, Marketing Director ILBCC and owner of Lord Mic, LLC, “can effectively craft their own opportunities for advancement and growth in their labor markets and the professional sectors.” The CBI Program works with businesses by assessing their needs, assisting with certifications, providing one-on-one assistance, business workshops, networking opportunities, connectivity to resources, review of financing options, technology uses and recommendations, general assistance for business management, etc., at no cost to the businesses.  “We have assisted businesses with reviewing blue prints, bid information, creating company profiles, accessing capital, marketing, and many other business needs, said Armosha Strudivant, President Peoria Black Chamber of Commerce (PBCC). “The PBCC is working on a program that will help develop businesses from start to finish. This program will work hand in hand with the CBI Program to expand on those resources.”

Infrastructure Engineering Staff Port 072913

Michael Sutton

We’ve provided assistance to a number of businesses interested in relocating to or expanding their footprint into other geographic areas that hold new opportunities for minority owned businesses. The ILBCC is working diligently with Michael Sutton, P.E., President/CEO and his team at Infrastructure Engineering to identify and create lucrative opportunities throughout Illinois. That assistance and connectivity helped them to establish an office in Peoria as well as in other cities downstate and out East. Infrastructure Engineering is one of the leading consulting engineering firms in the Midwest and the only African-American owned Engineering company in Peoria.


The CBI Program is assisting other mid-sized firms such as DAMRON Corporation, supplier of McFlurry spoons and teas for the McDonalds Corporation, by connecting them with key corporate partners such as the University of Illinois and Boyd Gaming to access opportunities. The Program also works with large corporations such as ComEd, Comcast, Illinois American Water, Ameren, and a host of others to help them to identify minority businesses that can grow and strengthen their diversity programs. “They have asked us to be an integral part of their various diversity events and to assist in getting information out to minority companies that want to participate,” said Mic Williams.    


Mae Whiteside, Principal CKL Engineers

Mae Whiteside

CKL Engineering, LLC, a professional civil engineering consulting firm, providing sustainable transportation design, road and airport construction, is new to the CBI Program. “My company has already received invaluable consultation in multiple areas” says Owner/President Mae Whiteside. Ms. Whiteside is currently looking at expanding her operations downstate.

Chama St. Louis, XFactor Agency

Chama St. Louis

Local companies such as EPIC Construction, One Motion Athletic, Favor, Triple J Janitorial, Rumbergers, and the XFactor Agency, have also benefited from the program. “Being a part of the CBI Program has offered me access to a lot of critical resources and networking to help me grow my business capacity” said Chama St. Louis, President/CEO the XFactor Agency. 

Some companies the CBI Program is working with have expressed an interest in doing business internationally. “Different firms have approached us looking for opportunities to do business abroad, so we have been actively engaged with the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) and a number of different countries to facilitate such opportunities,” said Larry D. Ivory. The ILBCC recently embarked on a trade mission to Kingston, Jamaica, which was facilitated by A. L. Taylor & Associates, a PA firm focusing on auditing, tax returns, and other financial and management services, who works with the CBI Program. A. L. Taylor’s President/CEO, Ayton Taylor, Sr. is a native Jamaican. He organized meetings with government officials and different industry ministers to discuss and examine opportunities for partnerships for companies to do business abroad. The ILBCC and the NBCC are working closely with Mr. Taylor on the Jamaican Trade Mission in April that will include attending Expo Jamaica 2016, the Caribbean’s premier trade show.


As the largest Black trade organization in Illinois, we act on behalf of the over 106,000* Black businesses across the state. These Black businesses are clamoring for a better future and more meaningful opportunities. (*Numbers extracted from

If you are a Black or Minority owned business, we encourage you to join or Minority Business Database. For more information on the CBI Program visit or contact the ILBCC at 309-740-4430.