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Illinois Black Chamber Kicks Off Spring #AtTheTable for LobbyDay 2019 By Lord Mic

The Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce is #AlwaysAtTheTable advocating for Black businesses so that they don’t wind up on the menu when it’s time to divide the political spoils of war. This year’s lobby day proved to be a victorious day for the Chamber and our constituency.

It was a lively kick off in front of the Lincoln statue where President Ivory addressed the assembly of Chamber supporters. He delivered a fiery and concise oration centered on the importance of inclusion and how that’s related or equated to the “variables that be.” He then passed the microphone to the Chamber’s Central Regional VP and then to the CFO respectively to call the plays. Our ranks divided into two regiments, prepared to move on the designated targets: the Illinois Department of Transportation, Department of Corrections, Department of Employment Security, Department of Health and Family Services, Capital Development Board, Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and of course our key political delegates, legislators and Black Caucus members.

Two chartered buses caravanned us throughout Springfield on a well rounded day of meaningful connectivity. Among the day’s critical conversations were the upcoming capital budget, and more specifically, the Motor Fuel Tax that will likely be funding it. This was a hot button topic that spanned nearly every encounter that we had; not just the Capital Development Board and IDOT. The bottom line with the Chamber is that we want participation for Black contractors as well as workforce from the grass roots to the highest levels and we’re prepared to stay engaged from the streets to the suites to ensure that happens. In fact, House Bill 3394 is a fantastic piece of proposed legislation sponsored by Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch that exhibits exactly how we engage from the suite level in real time! We not only support and endorse the proposed legislation; we applaud Representative Welch and the Black Caucus for putting it on the table. Now it’s time to move it into law. We encourage you to learn more about the HB3394 if you’re not already familiar with it, then follow up with your state representative to encourage them to support it!

We also, as a point, expressed the intentionality of inclusion in all things related to the impending sports betting and gaming bill that’s anticipated to bring Colorado style billions of dollars to our communities as well as the soon to be passed Recreational Cannabis Legislation. The cannabis industry is expected to bring another cache of billions of dollars in revenue to Illinois. It’s up to us to ensure that we’re written in as participators, not spectators in both cases. We can’t afford to be engaged in all the social debates then sit on the sidelines for the actual business and economic opportunities.

So many of these opportunities and newly legislated spaces will be tied or adjusted to an accurate census count. Now is the time for us to engage in and begin to understand those relevant conversations so that we can best understand how we can properly feed into the data. We must ensure that the count is accurate so that we’re accounted for when the opportunities (dollars) are allocated.

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the evolution of our matchmaking sessions. A lot of new companies were opened up to a world of contracting that was virtually unknown to them and LobbyDay was another great platform for that strategic business growth.

There are a lot of moving parts to the true economic empowerment of Black enterprises across Illinois and beyond…but we’re up for the challenge. Are you?

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