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Duckworth, Durbin, Foster Announce New Minority Business Development Agency Business Center in Illinois

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Bill Foster (D-IL-11), today announced $400,000 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) to the Aurora-based and Black woman-founded Strategic Exceptions Professional Consulting for the operation of a MBDA Business Center in Illinois. The Center will help Illinoisans bring greater economic opportunities to their communities by providing entrepreneurs of color with access to experts and resources to assist in developing, establishing and growing their businesses. Duckworth is a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship.

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“I am grateful and humbled to be the recipient of this award,” said Terrie Simmons, CEO of Strategic Exceptions. “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.”

This grant, which will be provided over a five-year period, comes through the MBDA Business Center Program and intends to help create Illinois jobs and assist minority-owned businesses with scaling, accessing capital and securing resources.

Contact: Gwen Pepin (Duckworth), 

Erica Schroeder (Durbin), 

Greg Cybulski (Foster),

Link to Original Press Release:

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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