This new program is looking to create more minority entrepreneurs in Illinois

January 20, 2016

On Tuesday, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner unveiled a new program aimed at improving the current milieu for minority entrepreneurs across the state of Illinois.

The initiative, called the Advancing the Development of Minority Entrepreneurship (A.D.M.E) program, is a result of Governor Rauner’s Executive Order to bring more folks of diverse background and perspectives to the table in business, technology, and the economy.

“We need to lift up minorities and women who have been overlooked within our society and are underrepresented in our economy,” Governor Rauner said in a statement. “Illinois is one of the most diverse states in the country and everyone benefits by cultivating and celebrating that diversity. A.D.M.E is a step forward in creating an economy where minority entrepreneurs are supported at the highest level.”

For the tech industry — which has repeatedly been criticized for being an exclusive, white man’s club — that means ramping efforts to tap into the potential of underrepresented communities to contribute to the industry. The idea is to arm “high-potential” minority entrepreneurs with the resources and support they need to realize and grow their businesses and empower their contributions to tech and innovation.

While the program will initially focus on underrepresented communities in the state’s larger metropolitan areas (think Chicago, Peoria, Rockford), the program hopes to spread statewide after its first year.

One of Chicago’s up-and-coming tech leaders, Jimmy Odom (whose delivery startup WeDeliver was acquired in 2015) is heading the program under his new role as senior policy advisor at the Illinois Department of Commerce.

“Illinois is creating a trail for minority entrepreneurs to succeed," Odom said. "A.D.M.E will open doors for these innovative individuals by supporting them at every level and providing them with additional knowledge and resources. We can give these innovative individuals and companies a better chance at success in a long-term and meaningful way, which will create a positive ripple effect in their community and across the state."

Here’s the full list of members on the Minority Economic Development Council (and other Community Partners):

  • Jimmy Odom, Illinois Department of Commerce Senior Policy Adviser of Minority Business Development
  • Julio Rodriguez, Illinois Department of Commerce Office of Employment Training Deputy Director
  • State Representative Ken Dunkin – 5th District
  • Emilia DiMenco, Women's Business Development Center President and CEO
  • Terrance Hall, Metropolitan Planner at Rockford Metropolitan Agency for Planning
  • Eva Brown, U.S. Bank, Vice President and Regional Community Development Manager
  • Steve Hall, Accion, Vice President of Small Business Development
  • Erica King, Vice President of Lending, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives Micro Finance Group
  • George Burciaga, Elevate Digital, Founder and CEO
  • Denise Moore, Peoria City Council
  • William Busch III, Gallup, Inc.

Photo via Wiki Commons.

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