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The Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC), the Black Chamber of Commerce of Illinois (BCCI) together with Congresswoman Robin Kelly (IL-2nd) and Congressman Jesus Chuy Garcia (IL-4th) convened a discussion about the importance of supporting the small business community. Topics of discussion included the Community Reinvestment Act, CDFIs, and Opportunity Zones.

The meeting commenced with a welcome from Jaime Di Paulo, CEO, IHCC, Corey Walker, President, BCCI, Betsy Ziegler, CEO, 1871 and remarks from Congresswoman Robin Kelly and Congressman Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia. In attendance and participating in the conversation were several members of congress including Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood, Congressman Bill Foster, Congressman Sean Casten, Congressman, Bobby L. Rush and Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi.

“Minority-owned businesses create opportunities for employment and increase economic prosperity across Chicago and the state. Supporting small businesses keeps our communities vibrant and neighborhoods’ cultures alive. During today’s meeting we focused on developing an agenda centered on equity and economic growth for the diverse communities we represent,” said Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04). 

“I was glad to start this District Work Period by convening a meeting between Members of Congress and leaders in the Black Chamber of Commerce of Illinois and Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. We all know that small businesses are the backbone of the American economy and supporting new, growing and diverse businesses and business owners is a recipe for economic success,” said Congresswoman Robin Kelly.

“By breaking down silos, we can craft policies that create jobs, foster entrepreneurship and expand access to capital – like my Women and Minority Equity Investment Act (H.R. 3633). I want to thank everyone who participated – my Congressional colleagues, SBA employees and business owners – in this vital conversation that will help ensure our communities remain open for business.”

“The issues we are discussing today are prevalent to not just Chambers of Commerce, but to the entire constituency we represent,” said Corey Walker, President, Black Chamber of Commerce of Illinois (BCCI). “It is groundbreaking and historic what the IHCC and BCCI intend to accomplish while supporting the growth and vitality of the small business community. We are going to get some amazing things done collectively as Chambers and are excited to pave the way for others with this collaborative relationship.”

“This is historic, the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce working with the Black Chamber of Commerce of Illinois and members of Congress on the same agenda, laying the groundwork to collaborate and elevate the small business community, together,” said Jaime Di Paulo, President & CEO, Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC). We look forward to continuing our work to amplify and strengthen our network for the benefit of our communities.”

Mark Ferguson, IL Deputy District Director, US Small Business Administration discussed the 5 C’s of Credit, Lines of Credit for MBE/WBE’s before the group participated in a discussion on establishing a commission of experts to study the Community Reinvestment Act and how to create a pathway for non-profits to become CDFIs, among other topics.

What’s Next? Delegates from IHCC and IBCC were invited to Springfield and Washington D.C to work alongside Congressmen on all issues discussed. The idea is the benefits of this effort can still be seen this 2020, with the allocation of specific items to meet the largest number of small business support programs.

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