A new initiative has been developed to assist women and minority-owned construction and professional services businesses get guaranteed access to capital.
The program offers participants a combination of loans and bonds, mentorships and advisory services such as management, technical, financial and contract procurement assistance.
The loans, supported by CIBC, Chicago Neighborhood Initiative (CNI), Liberty Bank, Providence Bank & Trust and Wintrust Bank, are offered as lines of credit, feature competitive interest rates and will be awarded in various amounts depending on the scope and size of the small business.
The diversity initiative was created by the developer Related Midwest, Magellan Development, Sterling Bay, Clayco, the Chicago Federation of Labor and Chicagoland Association of General Contractors.
“This fund represents the first time that so many industry partners have come together to pursue a common goal of activating the talent and business capacity that exists in our industry but has been held back by a lack of access to capital,” said Don Biernacki, senior vice president of construction at Related Midwest.
“I’m thrilled that major industry players are coming together to invest in small businesses and ensure that we do our part to create a more inclusive industry. Access to capital will increase these businesses’ ability to compete for valuable business opportunities, and we’re proud to invest in their success.”
During a kickoff fundraising event on August 15, the first seven loan recipients were named—all were minority-owned businesses and this group included three women-owned companies. The event, hosted under the name “Paving a Path to the Future,” raised more than $700,000 and brought together 600 people including small businesses, contractors, laborers and developers to network, partner and collaborate.
“Never before in our industry has there been an initiative that will have such a big impact on the landscape for women- and minority-owned businesses,” said Don Finn, business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
“This is the kind of opportunity that would normally be called ‘once in a lifetime,’ but we’re going to make sure that it becomes more frequent for more small businesses here in Chicago, and that’s what’s so remarkable about it. IBEW is proud to be a sponsor.”