CategoriesIHCC News

Entrepreneurship has never been more important than it is right now and we believe that our job at the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC) is to catalyze new business growth across the city, the state, and beyond.

In partnership with 1871, Exelon, Crown Castle and 14 others community organizations, we are excited to announce the launch of two pilots designed to support aspiring entrepreneurs and existing small business owners.

We are now testing DGTL (“digital”) and Small Business Initiative (SBI), two new efforts designed to support aspiring entrepreneurs and local small businesses with on-demand content, resource guides, and unique mentors. Read the 1871 full release!

“We at 1871 believe that entrepreneurial talent and aspiration is everywhere, but opportunity and access are not,” said Betsy Ziegler, CEO of 1871. “DGTL and our Small Business Initiative were designed to meet people where they are – to engage when and where they can. We are piloting with 15 of our existing community partners and a number of small business owners and we look forward to rolling this out more broadly in 2021.”

1871 have been developing these efforts in line with the efforts across the city and state.

“Thanks to 1871’s collaborative, data-driven partnerships, these exciting new pilots will support Chicago’s rich entrepreneurial and small business community by enabling them to grow their businesses, strengthen their local neighborhoods, and share their story—and ours—with the world,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot.

“As the top ranked business incubator in the world, 1871 has created a culture of innovation and collaboration in Chicago’s small business community. Now, this world-class incubator is making those resources and ideas, learned through nearly a decade of this work, available to Illinois entrepreneurs,” said Governor JB Pritzker.

“We are delighted to support our ever-innovative 1871 partners in extending access to new technology to the entrepreneurs who need it most,” said IHCC President & CEO, Jaime di Paulo.


DGTL, powered by Exelon, is the on-demand learning platform that delivers our world-class, expert-led content in short videos structured in the same way PYROS is.

In its pilot stage, DGTL houses our Explore Track curriculum, and is set to expand into Build and Launch at the public launch of the platform in January 2021.

The pilot is currently made up of ~150 local neighborhood entrepreneurs nominated by 1871 partners: Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Build BronzevilleChicago Urban LeagueEconomic Strategies Development Corp (ESDC)Far South Community Development CorporationGreater Englewood Chamber of Commerce, , Joseph Business SchoolLGBT Chamber of Commerce of IllinoisLife-House GroupLittle Village Chamber of CommerceOnWard HousePuerto Rican Cultural CenterSunshine EnterprisesUniversity CoWork and West Ridge Chamber, and will continue to grow ties to the community as DGTL scales.

Learners in the pilot will test our Explore content, where they access programming structured off of the following pillars:

  1. Product Marketing & Strategy
  2. Startup Business Fundamentals
  3. Leadership & Development

Stay in the loop as we test and build DGTL to support more entrepreneurs!

We plan to include DGTL as a major component of our membership in early 2021 and it will be used as a supplement to the PYROS experience.

Learn more about DGTL, the pilot, and join the launch list here.


Our Small Business Initiative (SBI), sponsored by Crown Castle, provides free, digital resources and mentorship to help small businesses across Chicago and the Midwest survive and thrive!

Developed in response to COVID-19, SBI is perfect for small businesses that lack a digital presence or e-marketplace.

The initiative provides an exclusive opportunity to access 1871’s network of experts and resources by way of a robust “Start Digitizing Your Business” guide and access to a specialized online portal that includes mentor matching.

Learn more about SBI and access the guide here.

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