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Illinois’ “Sheltered Market” Model for the Rest of the Country

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner announcing the Executive Order activating the “Sheltered Market Initiative”Minority businesses celebrated throughout Illinois July 13, 2016 as Governor Bruce Rauner signed an Executive Order (EO) activating the “Sheltered Market Initiative” in Illinois. This Executive Order came about through the diligent advocacy of the Illinois State Black Chamber of Commerce (ILBCC) and its President/CEO, Larry D. Ivory. “This is a bona fide precedent for our state and a tremendous step in the right direction towards removing the barriers that prohibit fair and equal participation of minority, women and disabled persons owned businesses in government contracting and procurement opportunities” said Michael Williams, Director of Marketing, Media, and PR ILBCC. “This Executive Order, especially the thoughtful consideration of use of Sheltered Markets is perhaps the most important step the State of Illinois has taken toward bringing equity to Black and minority-owned businesses in the state,” said Larry D. Ivory.

We need to lift up minorities, women, and persons with disabilities who have been overlooked within our society and are underrepresented in our economy,” said Governor Rauner. “Illinois is one of the most diverse states in the country, yet a 2015 study found that disparities exist between the number of minority-owned and women-owned businesses and their utilization on contracts and subcontracts through the State. This Executive Order (EO 2016-08) seeks to address this disparity and to ensure more minority-owned businesses are given the opportunity to do business with the State”.

EO 2016-08 directs the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS) to institute a number of reforms to how it currently administers the State of Illinois’ Business Enterprise Program to address the problems highlighted by a 2015 Disparity Study. The “Sheltered Market Initiative” will allow certain state contracts to be set aside specifically for businesses owned by minorities, females and people with disabilities, and was established after an Illinois Business Enterprise Program Council Disparity Study found that sectors of the IT/Telecommunication industry was being unfairly excluded from state contracts.

There’s still a lot of work to do and the ILBCC needs your support in continuing to eradicate the gross disparities that continue to cripple Black businesses across the state. Please, take a look at the “Official Position Paper” that can be found on the ILBCC website at