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Illinois Black Chamber launches initiatives for Economic Opportunity By Lord Mic

As we Fall forward into the final quarter of 2018, the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce is focused on wrapping up the year stronger than ever. The Chamber is launching a number of initiatives which include business mixers, b2b networking workshops, holiday celebrations and more.

Let’s begin by congratulating the people of Peoria and the Illinois American Water Company for thwarting the CEO Council’s attempt to wrestle the steering wheel from the capable hands of ILAW at a special City Council meeting on October 30th. It really came down to one of the five key reasons to oppose the buyout that the Chamber presented before the council and constituency; a fact that was clearly echoed and articulated by Mayor Ardis. Regardless of how one tries to frame it or dress it up…and no matter what a study says; Peoria can’t afford to buy the water company.

We’re looking forward to adding a couple new virtual workshops and forums to our clinic platform later this month; we hope to add that value to your business portfolio. We’ll be taking our first deep dive into our energy efficiency platform with mixers and a virtual workshop. We’ll be helping vendors and businesses, as well as residential customers, understand how to access opportunity with Ameren Illinois.

We’re particularly excited about our “Forum for Black Restaurateurs and Foodservice Professionals.” It should come as no surprise that “mom and pop” restaurants are still a cornerstone of the Black community. Well, it’s time to tend to the foundation. Make plans to join us!

Restaurant success starts with a great guest experience, a good concept, delicious food, and an inviting atmosphere, but that’s just the first step. That’s how to create a good restaurant. You need to turn your good restaurant into a great business. That’s where the Chamber comes in.

Whether you’ve owned a restaurant for a few months or several years, you will have to deal with the ever-present challenges of the food service industry, from training new staff on food safety practices to figuring out health care laws. This includes restaurant owners, suppliers, distributors, consultants, hospitality students, and educators, as well as foodservice professionals.

If you fall into one of those categories, then you owe it to your business to utilize the Chamber’s forum and clinic platform to help raise the bar for your business. Our goal is to bring some synergy to the base and introduce a formal regiment, paired with an array of time-tested techniques and mechanisms for food service professionals to subscribe to, such as various measures of capacity building, Group Buying Power and contracting.

Very recently President Ivory took part in an intimate roundtable discussion with top brass at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including the new Acting Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, the Acting Deputy Chief of Staff and their team. They’re working towards improving their small business utilization, understanding that minority and disadvantaged communities are mainly affected first and worst by EPA issues. Moving forward, the Illinois Black Chamber will be partnering with the National Black Chamber in an effort to create more awareness in the areas of regulatory and environmental concerns for small business.

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Left to right: ILBCC President & CEO Larry Ivory, Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, San Francisco African American Chamber President Fred Jordan, National BCC President & CEO Harry Alford


In early October Camelot Illinois, the private manager for the Illinois Lottery signed agreements with the first wave of Black media purveyors as one of the company’s many efforts to restore transparency, integrity, and responsibility to the Illinois Lottery. We’re proud to call the entire first flight of Camelot’s Black media partners’ members of the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce and our Black Media Network.


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Camelot Illinois inks the deal with Black Media Network Outlets

Camelot’s innovative approach places consumers and social responsibility at its core, providing funding for schools, capital projects, and special causes. Camelot is committed to building an organization with the strength and experience to grow the lottery and reinforce its rightful position as a force for good.

We want to commend Wendy Abrams, Sr. Director of corporate affairs, Keith Horton, VP of Compliance and General Counsel and Colin Hadden, General Manager and the rest of Camelot’s leadership team for the vision and collaborative efforts to service the pro-Black business agenda. This is a great start with a great group of Black-owned media outlets! Congratulations to The Traveler Weekly, The Times Weekly, The Chicago and Gary Crusader, Ndigo and Hartman Publications, TBT News, and Wvon. We encourage all of Illinois’ Black and minority media professionals to engage with our network so that we can begin to pair you with meaningful opportunities too!

The lack of minority representation in Illinois’ cannabis industry is alarming and especially fraught given that research shows African-Americans were and continue to be disproportionately arrested and incarcerated since the war on drugs began. Now that cannabis is seen by and large as a legitimate business, advocates argue that minorities should also reap the profits.

But African-Americans seeking to go into business as growers or retailers still face a host of hurdles and disparities, researchers say. Many States bar convicted drug felons from the industry, disproportionately hurting minorities because of historically higher conviction rates. Others have set unreasonably high investment requirements while some dole out licenses through appointed commissions that industry researchers say almost exclusively reward the politically connected, who by and large are wealthy and white.

With the governor’s election in days, operators see the potential to attract the general consumer, not just the patient — depending on the outcome. Rauner has said legalizing pot for recreational use would be a mistake. Democratic contender J.B. Pritzker, however, has said he would work to legalize recreational marijuana in Illinois.

5G may well be the biggest new trend in 2019/2020, with 1 billion people worldwide likely to be 5G-enabled within five years from now.

Besides faster internet and devices, Accenture has forecast that 5G and smart cities

investments will create nearly 100,000 jobs and bring in nearly $9 billion in investment to Illinois over the next seven years.

“We are building a future where our economy booms, job creation soars, and our Midwest neighbors watch in amazement as Illinois takes the lead in innovation, job growth, and economic opportunity,” Rauner said.

“This legislation will benefit businesses, employers and job seekers throughout our state while providing valuable services for our citizens. Wireless technology is essential for small and start-up businesses that are the core of our economy. We are happy the Governor, and the General Assembly made this step forward for our community,” President and CEO of the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce Larry D. Ivory said.

Get a bird’s eye view of what’s important to the Black business community by texting ILBCC to 22828 for a free subscription to our Black Business News Journal.

For more information on the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce visit