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Aurora-based Organization Granted the Minority Business Development Agency Grant to establish the Minority Business Development Agency Business Center in Illinois


Strategic Exceptions Professional Consulting Inc. was awarded the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Grant to establish the Illinois Minority Business Development Agency (IL MBDA) Business Center. The MBDA Business Center Program provides technical assistance and business development services to minority business enterprises, also known as MBEs. The MBDA provides Federal assistance in support of innovative projects that promote and seek to resolve the challenges faced by MBEs. The MBDA awarded 36 businesses ranging from $375,000 – $415,000 for each award.

IL MBDA Business Center recently filled two key roles: Executive Director and Executive Assistant. Visit the website at to learn more. The IL MBDA operates across the state serving both physically and virtually. The Center’s main office is located at 31 S Grove Ave, Elgin IL 60506 with satellite offices throughout the state. The IL MBDA Business Center’s grand opening will occur on November 12, 2021, at 6pm at its main office.

In the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations bill, Congress authorized MBDA to foster, promote, and develop minority business enterprise, through grants, contracts, and other agreements with public or private organizations.

U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Bill Foster (D-IL-11) announced the $400,000 in federal funding to help support black-owned businesses across the state.

“We should be doing everything we can to help businesses grow and create jobs in Illinois communities—and we can’t ignore businesses owned by people of color,” Duckworth said. “Establishing this Minority Business Development Agency Business Center Illinois will provide entrepreneurs of color with guidance to help get their businesses off the ground. I’m proud to join Senator Durbin in announcing this infusion of federal funding, and I’ll keep working to help our state build a stronger economy that works for all Illinoisans.”

Organizations that are owned or controlled by the following persons or groups of persons are the organizations that are considered MBEs for the purpose of this award: African-American, Hispanic-American, American Asian and Pacific Islander, Native American (including Alaska Natives, Alaska Native Corporations and Tribal entities), Asian Indian American, and Hasidic Jewish American.

“This federal funding will help ensure that minority-owned businesses and entrepreneurs in Illinois have access to the technical assistance and resources needed to grow and prosper,” Durbin said. “MBDA investments like this one are especially important as we recover from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Senator Duckworth and I will continue advocating for resources to help Illinois’ small businesses.”


The MBDA Business Center assists MBEs to do the following:

  • Guiding them through the ideal certifications for their business and how to get them
  • Working with buyers to match clients with opportunities that lead to contracts
  • Hosting business-to-business matchmaking forums that link our clients with real opportunities
  • Providing Bid opportunities
  • Providing strategic business counseling
  • Utilizing strategic networks locally and nationwide to help create results
  • Working with lenders and funders to help them get access to capital and investors
  • Working with corporations and local government agencies to secure MBEs to do business with.

The award is focused on capacity building for firms with revenues of $500,000 or more. Visit the website to become a member or client:

“I’m proud to join Senator Duckworth and Senator Durbin in congratulating Aurora’s very own Strategic Exceptions Professional Consulting on securing a federal grant to establish a MBDA Business Center in Illinois,” Foster said. “This federal funding will go a long way to helping people of color pursue their dreams of entrepreneurship – by providing helpful tools and guidance to get their businesses off the ground. Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy, but too often, people of color lack access to resources that can help set them up for success. I’m glad to see a homegrown organization lead the way in expanding economic opportunities for everyone in our community and our state.”


MBDA seeks to fund projects located in the defined locations; however, a center may serve any U.S. minority business enterprises located in any U.S. state. You must have physical office space in the state for which you apply.

Strategic Exceptions is working to confirm a site location. Details are under development.


Strategic Exceptions CEO, Terrie Simmons, received the grant based upon her work in the Aurora community as former Executive Director of the Women’s Business Development Center and her thriving business, Strategic Exceptions. Strategic Exceptions is a leadership and customer service consulting firm based in Aurora. Simmons is also the founder of the Lewis Simmons Foundation, a nonprofit organization that seeks to bridge the health and wealth gap in underserved communities by providing resources and training for the underserved population and those incarcerated to help them get a new start in life.

She is also the host of Terrie Talks Tea, a platform for local business owners to share their product and brand to a live audience and she is member of Aurora’s Thrive Collaborative Center.

Simmons is the recipient of the 2020 Status of Women Community Award presented by Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc.’s West Suburban Chicago Chapter.  She also received the Act of Kindness Award presented by Elgin State Bank and Aurora Bank & Trust. In addition to her work in business, she’s dedicated to mentoring young, minority women in business. She’s dedicated to fostering business development and professional growth in local communities across the state.

“I am grateful and humbled to be the recipient of this award,” said Simmons. “Thank you to Congressman Foster for his recommendation and to the Illinois Congressional Delegation for their continued support of the Illinois minority business community. I do not take this assignment lightly and as a leader in the business community, I understand how badly minority business enterprises (MBEs) need support. My diverse team and I will work with community partners to provide education, training and the financial resources our businesses have needed for a long time to help build capacity and facilitate business development.”

To learn more about Strategic Exceptions, visit the website at

CONTACT: Terrie Simmons, CEO, Strategic Exceptions 

Terrie Simmons

Terrie Simmons is an entrepreneur, civic leader, and the owner of Strategic Exceptions, a professional business consulting firm, innovative employee training and organizational development company focused on delivering exceptional service standards with quantitative results. Terrie is expertly experienced in non-profit management, leadership development and all phases of entrepreneurship How To’s. Terrie is also an adjunct professor teaching business courses at the graduate level.

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