Gov. Bruce Rauner said a new executive order will give disadvantaged businesses the chance to level the playing field when working with the state.

The order acts on the results of a 2015 study, which shows a lack of businesses owned by minorities, women and the disabled earning bids from the state. Rauner signed the order today at Blue 1647, a minority-owned business technology incubator on Chicago's South Side.

The order allows the Department of Central Management Services to create "sheltered market"-specific bids in industries such as information technology. Only companies deemed by the state to be disadvantaged bidders could participate.

The order also creates outlets for disadvantaged businesses to more competitively bid for other state contracts. Rauner said the state's complicated procurement process leaves insiders with the only real chance to get state contracts.

 "If you're not on the inside, you don't know what's coming,” he said. “You're at a disadvantage, and you can't get your bid ready to participate if you don't know.”

Loop Capitol CEO Jim Reynolds said minority-owned businesses do more for the impoverished communities than any social program.

 "Whatever measurement you want to look at, if there are no jobs in the community, there's no hope in the community," Reynolds said.

Rauner added that small businesses are the key to reinvigorating some of Illinois' most challenged neighborhoods.

 "We need to support all of our small businesses, especially our disadvantaged small businesses, so they can create more jobs in all of our neighborhoods," he said.

 CMS will report the program's results yearly.


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