ILLINOIS - Today, Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) awarded $2.5 million in grant funding to 10 recipients through the Illinois Economic Empowerment Centers Grant Program (EEC). This funding will help organizations provide training and resources to individuals and entrepreneurs from historically disinvested communities pursue job opportunities.

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“Intentional community investment and training brings economic empowerment to communities that have suffered from historic disinvestment,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “This is a top priority for my administration, and I am thrilled to see funding go to local organizations that advance the EEC’s mission by providing educational resources to start-ups, existing businesses, and dislocated workers.”

“I am eager to see the Economic Empowerment Centers forge a clearer path to success for business owners from historically underserved communities,” said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “By fostering a more equitable entrepreneurial landscape, this transformative initiative will have a profound and lasting impact on our state's economic future.”

The EEC Grant Program was developed to help create an inclusive business ecosystem within communities that have historically faced systemic barriers to entry and growth through dynamic partnerships, targeted outreach, and tailored programs and initiatives.

“The EEC program is critical to ensuring the State is continuing to do its part to create a diverse business ecosystem across Illinois,” said DCEO Director Kristin Richards. “Through this grant funding and the dedication of the selected nonprofits and community organizations, Illinoisans who have historically faced barriers to entry will have the resources, tools and training they need to succeed in the workplace.”

Grantee

Location

Grant Amount

Black Business Alliance Peoria

Peoria

$250,000

Board of Trustees of Southern IL University

Carbondale

$250,000

Center for Changing Lives

Chicago

$250,000

Chicago’s Sunshine Enterprises, Inc.

Chicago

$250,000

DevCorp North

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Chicago

$250,000

Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois and Wisconsin Stateline Area, Inc.

Rockford

$250,000

Little Village Community Foundation Corp

Chicago

$250,000

Quad County Urban League

Aurora

$250,000

Southland Development Authority

Tinley Park

$250,000

Vermillion Advantage NFP

Danville

$250,000

EECs will provide business advice, technical assistance, education, and cohort training, including resources and training tailored toward start-ups, existing businesses, and dislocated workers. Selected EECs will provide a variety of services, including management analysis and counseling, business planning and financial planning assistance, market analysis, referrals to educational programs and more. More information about these economic empowerment centers can be found on DCEO’s website.

Funding for the EEC program was made available through a competitive Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). Eligible applicants included career education agencies and non-profit organizations that serve individuals from historically marginalized communities including minorities, women, individuals with a disability, dislocated workers, veterans, and youth entrepreneurs.

“These investments will have a tremendous impact on our State,” said Sen. Joyce (D-Kankakee). “When we prioritize investments in our communities that need it most it not only helps boost our economic success, it also expands opportunities for hardworking folks across Illinois.”

“Investing in the EEC program is imperative to our efforts to diversify the state's economy,” said Sen. Faraci (D-Champaign). “This funding will provide aspiring entrepreneurs in our community the tools and resources they need to be successful.”

“This funding is a critical piece in our efforts to remove barriers for Illinoisans who need it most,” said Sen. Villanueva (D-Chicago). “Prioritizing equity in our investments is not only a win for the people of Illinois, it will also have a concrete impact on our ? economy.”

“Investing in our communities that have been historically underserved is crucial to the economic success of our State,” said Leader Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria). “This funding for EEC programs, will ensure that all Illinoisans, regardless of their background have the support and resources they need to be successful.”

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