Good morning everyone. It is a pleasure to be here today I appreciate every one of you, for have taken time to join us in our first ever VIRTUAL breakfast-networking event, this has been a year everyone will like to forget but NOT for the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC). I’m going to share incredible numbers later on.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker for all your support and allowing me to ask you a few questions and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot for sending us your warm messages and to show us their constant support in working together to solve and support our business community.
I will like to thank the Board of Directors of IHCC Chairman Juan, Guillermo, Arabel, Matt, Milena, Mayra, Rey, Art, Richard, Kevin, Luis, and Socorro, this is an incredible group of professionals dedicated to the mission of the organization, Gracias, muchas gracias, for their patience and constant support. Without you, none of this would be possible.
In 2020 there was very little good news. Today the IHCC can show all its members, partners, and clients the positive and encouraging results of our work during one of the worst years we have ever had as a society, not only here in Chicago but across the country and around the world.
When I saw many of you, at our first breakfast back in January of this year, I told you that 2020 was going to be a celebration year because our 30th Anniversary, but everything changed after March 13th. Today we end this 2020 by talking about the historic help we were able to offer at a time when our community needed it most. Thank God we were able to do so.
COVID 19 showed IHCC’s great commitment to our mission. Our structure is solid because it is based on valuable human resources. For that reason, we were able to endure everything we had to live to help more than ever.
I am immensely proud of my team, which is mostly made up of smart and brave women. They all have gave it their best so that today we can proudly say “yes we can”. Thank you, Amanda, Ivette, Silvia, Liana, Angie, Gabriela (who recently left), Danny, Juan Carlos, Leslie, Janet, Esteban, Marisol, Oscar and Adrian, for your constant support and dedication to the mission.
The crisis generated by Coronavirus ended up being, for our organization, a throttle of positive actions focused fundamentally on helping our small businesses, the backbone of our economy.
I have always said that numbers are cold, but they are a mirror of truth. An organization like ours has an obligation to provide transparent information about the use of public, private and donated funds it receives and to report the results of its annual work. 2020’s final report can be seen and consulted in the next couple of hours on our website.
In 2020 we were able to accomplish an old dream I always had, which was to hire a statistical expert to verify independently our work’s merits. Today we can proudly say that our results are being measured by an expert from the University of Chicago. Every action we take must be measured on a scientific basis, to bring the best quality help where it is most needed.
Today those numbers are the ones that allow us to tell 2020 ‘s story and put the bar high to work even better in 2021.
Because of IHCC’s technical assistance programs, IL SBDC, IL PTAC, SPTRC, Il Tollway, working in collaboration with the SBA and several banking partners we helped create and retain just over 18,000 jobs during the worst economic crisis in 50 years. This is an increment +4,200% from 2019.
We were able to triple the financial assistance and access to capital that Illinois Hispanic businesses received. We were also able to get thousands of our program clients to access a total of $88 MILLION in financial resources, including access to PPP, EIDL, State funds, Cook County funds, private funds , municipalities and city of Chicago grant funds.
The IHCC has been working non-stop and as 100% focused in helping, collectively all together we have worked 7 days a week for just over 14,700 hours virtually, on the phone, answering emails from small businesses and organizations that needed our help. We work under the motto #Weareheretohelp and we transmit that message that all the time in our campaigns, explaining to businesses that our doors are always open to help.
We took advantage of our time by participating in almost 500 events, ranging from working sessions, webinars, and virtual training. Many of these events were in Spanish, designed exclusively to help our business community in their own language.
We were able to assist 10,880 members and clients, which means we assisted 2 per hour, from March to November, including Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, from 8 am to 9 or 10 pm.
During such a desolated scenario, as I told you from the beginning, my intentions were to give you good news. All of you are here, with your positive energy, and because all of you here today where able to surpass our goals and celebrate our 30th year anniversary helping business survive (IN MY MIND THAT IS WORTH CELEBRATING).
This is our year end celebration and I wish we could be in person so I can tell every one of you HOW much I appreciate you and thank you for all the support you all have giving to the IHCC. But, in this “new zoom reality, we are living” I can only say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, and MORE THANK YOU for everything. Merry Christmas to all and for your families, many blessings, good health, and the reiteration of a personal conviction: the best is always to come.