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 minority business enterprises (MBEs) 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

    We serve minority business enterprises (MBEs) that are owned or controlled by the following persons or groups of persons: 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. While we serve all MBEs, our target clients are businesses with annual revenues of at least $500,000.

Liseth Manzo, IL MBDA DIrector

Get to Know Liseth Manzo

Project Director, IL MBDA Business Center

Liseth is a culturally competent bilingual leader who is passionate about her role to achieve meaningful contributions as the Project Director of the Illinois Minority Business Development Agency (IL MBDA) Business Center.

Raised by immigrant entrepreneurs and being an entrepreneur herself she understands the challenges to obtain accurate information for the growth of a small business.

With over 15 years of business experience and all the resources available to the IL MBDA, Liseth is eager to help her fellow minority entrepreneurs take their business to the next level.

Melodie Simmons, Program Manager/Executive Assistant, IL MBDA Business Center

Meet Melodie Simmons

Program Manager/Executive Assistant, IL MBDA Business Center

Melodie is an entrepreneur, mom of two teenagers, and business professional. Her first job was at a retail store where she was hired to be a cashier but within a week, she was creating floor displays for each department.

That love of business, fashion, and creativity led her to start her online shoe business, Adouci. Launching Adouci.com is a dream come true. Fashion has always been at the forefront of Melodie’s upbringing.

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

She currently serves as the Program Manager of the IL MBDA Business Center where she provides business coaching and strategic direction for businesses. She brings her passion for serving others into her role as well as her customer service experience. Her love for people is the reason she is currently pursuing her degree in Psychology.

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

Meet Terrie Simmons

President, 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 President 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 by serving organizations that are owned or controlled by the following persons or groups of persons: 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. While we serve all MBEs, our target clients are businesses with annual revenues of at least $500,000.