About the Illinois Minority Business Development Agency Business Center

Ribbon cutting ceremony for the launch of the IL MBDA Business Center
  • Who We Are

    The Illinois Minority Business Development Agency (IL MBDA) Business Center is operated by Strategic Exceptions Professional Consulting Inc. under the leadership of President and CEO, Terrie Simmons. The IL MBDA Business Center is funded, in part, by the U.S. Department of Commerce through the Minority Business Development Agency.

  • What We Do

    We promote the growth and global competitiveness of small businesses through business development and capacity building. We help our clients secure capital, access new markets, compete for contracts, and make strategic partners and business moves.

  • Who We Serve

    While we serve all small businesses, our target clients are businesses with annual revenues of at least $500,000.


Get to Know Regina Smith

Executive Director - Programs, IL MBDA Business Center

Regina serves as the Executive Director of Programs at the IL MBDA Business Center. She is a visionary leader with a relentless drive for program growth and a passion for fostering meaningful connections in the realm of workforce development. She has a Doctor of Education in Ethical Leadership and is known for her strategic acumen and ability to deliver tangible results. With a career spanning leadership roles in workforce development and stakeholder collaboration, she has had a front-row seat to the need for economic education, resource availability, and allocations dedicated to the prosperity of minority-owned businesses.

Dr. Smith’s expertise extends across various domains including staff management, project management, and budget oversight. She possesses a keen understanding of workforce pipeline development across various industries tailored to meet workforce demands. Her adeptness in fostering collaboration both within and beyond organizational boundaries has proven to be instrumental in driving operational excellence and achieving programmatic success.

Melodie Simmons

Meet Melodie Simmons

Office Manager & Salesforce Data Analyst, IL MBDA Business Center

Melodie is an entrepreneur, mom of two teenagers, and business professional.

Melodie spent over 15 years in customer service in the utility and insurance industry.

She currently serves as the Office Manager & Salesforce Data Analyst of the Illinois Minority Business Development Agency (IL MBDA) Business Center where she keeps our back office running seamlessly and keeps our team on top of our numbers. She brings her passion for serving others into her role as well as her customer service experience.

Pat Hanes2

Meet Pat Hanes

Strategic Business Development Consultant, IL MBDA Business Center

Pat has worked in corporate, and government and, non-profit organizations. She brings over 30 years of minority business development and supplier diversity experience to the Center's clients.

At the Illinois MBDA Business Center, Pat focuses on developing minority-owned businesses. She offers technical assistance, managerial coaching, export development, and growth services to generate increased financing, contracting opportunities, and greater access to domestic and global markets. Pat works with MBE clients and contract holders helping them to identify, screen, promote and connect to resources that increase their global growth and competitiveness.

Sergio Xula Professional Picture

Meet Sergio Xula

Business Financial Consultant, IL MBDA Business Center

Sergio's career began in the 1990s. As a financial business owner, certified financial consultant, and a former top-performing business banking VP at JP Morgan Chase Bank, his expertise spans heavy sales and finance, consumer finance, and business banking.

At the Illinois MBDA Business Center, Sergio is committed to helping our clients make the right financial moves in their businesses. He provides financial technical assistance, including financial analysis, business plan preparation, commercial business relationship banking, financial literacy specialist, workshop development, professional development, and all commercial and business financial tools & resources.

Terrie Simmons, CEO of Strategic Exceptions and President of the IL MBDA Business Center

Meet Terrie Simmons

Operator, IL MBDA Business Center

Terrie is a strategic innovator, national award-winning empowerment speaker, serial entrepreneur, author, civic leader, and connector who helps underserved persons build wealth and chart successful professional, personal, and business paths.

With more than 30 years of building success in corporate and business environments, Terrie mentors over 30 women throughout the country and reaches men and women, worldwide, through her social media platforms and her empowerment show "Terrie Talks Tea."

Terrie is the owner and CEO of Strategic Exceptions Professional Consulting Inc. (SEPCI), a nationally certified Woman owned Business and Minority Business Enterprise and the Operator of the Illinois Minority Business Development Agency (IL MBDA) Business Center.

A National Network Funded by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce

Effective July 1, 2021, Strategic Exceptions Professional Consulting Inc. became the recipient of a Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) award 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 (MBEs). The MBDA provides Federal assistance in support of innovative projects that promote and seek to resolve the challenges faced by minority enterprises. The MBDA made 36 awards under this announcement. You can view the list of Centers here.

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. MBDA is authorized pursuant to Executive Order 11625 to provide financial assistance to public and private organizations so that they may render technical and management assistance to minority business enterprises and defray all or part of the costs of pilot or demonstration projects conducted by public or private agencies or organizations that are designed to overcome the special challenges of minority business enterprises.

The primary drivers of the IL MBDA Business Center are:

  1. Business development — fostering and securing new opportunities for MBEs that result in revenue generation by: assisting clients to increase sales and service agreements, product requests, task orders and exports; and - Matching opportunities and assisting qualified/vetted MBE clients to access, compete, and secure transactions that lead to a financial benefit (e.g., sales).
  2. Capacity building by assisting MBEs with management capacity, financial capacity, and technological capacity that results in new capabilities, higher productivity, reduced costs, increased profits, workforce improvement, business expansion, and scalability.

The IL MBDA Business Center was officially launched on November 12, 2021 and now carries out the mandate of the MBDA. While we serve all small businesses, our target clients are businesses with annual revenues of at least $500,000.