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Ready for the Fall & the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce is Still All In By Lord Mic

Black America is in an absolute economic State of Emergency! To not immediately acknowledge then address the inevitable and impending collapse of Black communities is not just naive but outright thickheaded…bordering on recklessly irresponsible, considering the power we have to change it.

The Illinois State Black Chamber of Commerce will soon launch a prolific campaign implicitly intended as a clarion call from Black Nation to every stakeholder that has pigeonholed Black businesses and communities into the “Less Than 1% Paradigm”…and that’s a quite voluminous list, so we really need to rally the troops ahead of this effort.

We will be systematically targeting specific sectors of industry to measurably move our constituents in the right direction by utilizing our proven capacity building stratagem, beginning with “Black Media” Marketing & Communications, which spans the litany of traditional and contemporary media outlets, reporters/journalists/b(v)loggers & public relations practitioners, etc.

Black Media is a lucrative bastion of industry for Black businesses and entrepreneurs as well as a still sleeping juggernaut in terms of defining and ultimately determining, and more importantly, forecasting, the Black condition.

We’ve scheduled a major press conference for the morning of September 17th, where we’ll officially announce our campaign and articulate more of our program. We want all of our Black media partners to play an integral role in developing and deploying this multi-faceted project, particularly in their region. Your input and support of the campaign is important and appreciated too!

Now is the time to demand the changes and lead the charge to move Black businesses and communities from a “Less Than 1%” chance of realizing the American Dream!

State of Illinois: We Demand A Seat At the Table!

The Illinois State Black Chamber of Commerce is fighting mad. Despite there being 144,000 Black-owned businesses in Illinois that represent extremely diverse industries and generate millions in taxable revenue for the state, Black businesses continue to be overlooked and undervalued by the State of Illinois. The Central Management Services, which oversees the State’s more than 80 agencies, has an annual operating budget of $84.5 billion and is tasked with hiring the contractors and vendors that enable the state to take care of state business – delivering efficient, reliable services to the people of Illinois.

Sadly, very little of this annual budget and accompanying contracts are ever awarded to Black-owned businesses, even though Illinois’ Business Enterprise for Minorities, Women, and Persons with Disabilities Act (30 ILCS 575/) establishes, as an aspirational goal, that not less than 20 percent of the total dollar amount of State contracts be awarded to businesses owned by minorities, females, and persons with disabilities.

The Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce (ILBCC) was created to help right such inequities. Our mission is simple. We exist to empower Black enterprises in order to strengthen Black communities.

Our goal is for all Black businesses in Illinois to become sustainable, high-growth enterprises by assisting with building their capacity to compete effectively for local, state, and federal commercial contracting. Crafting solutions that directly help reduce economic disparities that impact our communities is what the State Black Chamber does.

Recently, we joined forces with former employees of the Illinois Department of Transportation to demand an investigation of the recurrent and documented systemic racism at IDOT, which has a staggering budget of $23.4 billion this year. We’re working together to ensure that Black Americans get a fair chance to reap the benefits of the tax dollars they’ve paid into the Federal Highway Fund, with reference to internal and external hiring as well as subcontracting opportunities.

We’ve seen it time and again, where state contracts created with the purpose of improving minority communities are not awarded to those most qualified to reach these audiences – entrepreneurs who look like us. Just take the U.S. Census Bureau. For the 2020 Census, a White-owned agency was awarded a whopping half-billion dollar contract with the U.S. Census Bureau, even though the campaign was aimed at providing community outreach to underserved and hard-to-reach populations … in other words, Black and Brown folks. Multicultural agencies were brought on board as subcontractors, but even when we are awarded the contracts, the actual budgets allocated to do effective programming and place impactful ad buys with local and regional Black Media is typically minuscule.

The disparity in State spending, across all industries, with Black-owned companies is unacceptable. We contend that things would have been much different if Black businesses had a seat at the table when that decision was being made. That’s why the ILBCC, its members, and 12 affiliate chambers and chapters are calling for a meeting with decision-makers in Springfield to discuss these issues.

In addition, the State of Illinois has a dismal track record of awarding contracts to Black-owned PR and advertising agencies whose work helps fuel Black Media – newspapers, radio stations, magazines. Black media entrepreneurs like Tom Burrell of Burrell Communications, the late Earl Graves of Black Enterprise Magazine and John H. Johnson of Jet and Ebony, and countless others whose pioneering efforts made Black history also became centerpieces of American history.

Black media purveyors are the frontline communications platforms for the Black community, routinely providing and covering stories about what’s happening in and to Black America. According to Nielsen Ad Intel, advertisers invested $18 billion on Black American-focused media in 2018, which represents 21 percent of the total $83 billion spent on advertising. The State’s inability to do business with Black media and Black PR and advertising agencies is unacceptable. Again, we demand a seat at the table.

Because of nationally televised and undeniably graphic videos of Blacks being beaten and murdered across this country, millions of Americans have “awakened” to the pandemic of racism and inequality that Black people have endured for centuries. We now want to “wake” the State of Illinois to the economic as well as social injustices that Black businesses here experience each time they are denied the opportunity to contract with the State because they weren’t invited to have a seat at the table.

Black-owned businesses account for nearly 20 percent of all businesses in Illinois. Doing business with Black-owned businesses not only benefits business owners, but when you hire and do business with Black-owned companies, you actually are investing in the broader Black community because Black businesses typically train and hire from within the community. This is economic development at its core, from the inside out.

The current social justice climate has ignited the flame for companies and brands across the country to step up and do more to ensure a more level playing field. Why should the state government be exempt from this clarion call?

Our track record of successfully operating companies with multi-million dollar revenues should be proof enough to Governor J.B. Pritzker and the other powers in Springfield that Black-owned businesses are more than qualified and willing to handle their projects. We have earned our seats at the table!

The Passing of a Living Legend

Reverend Arthur Gass, Sr.

It is with heavy hearts that we share with you the passing of our beloved brother and emeritus Chairman of the Board, Reverend Arthur Gass, Sr. He lay down his fight with cancer on the evening of August 20th, 2020 and transitioned into the bosom of our Heavenly Father to rest in eternal power.

Pastor Gass was an outspoken advocate and true champion for Black communities all of his life, being recognized as a teacher, community leader, and a scholar. He was driven by integrity and principles that he would compromise for no man or amount, even in the midst of opposition. His accolades are many and we know all them to be well deserved!

His loss is still reverberating throughout his Waukegan and Lake County community and is rippling widely throughout our organization as well. We Love You! We miss you!

We promise to honor the legacy of Reverend Arthur Gass, Sr. and to continue his unwavering commitment to Black Nation.

– Peaceful Journeys!

For more information on the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce visit the new www.ILBCC.org