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Anchor Institutions Step up to Support Chicago’s Small Businesses

Expansion will increase the number of committed institutions from 11 to at least 20 and double the number of small businesses helped

MayorCASE_ROUNDTABLE Rahm Emanuel, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and World Business Chicago recently announced the expansion of the Chicago Anchors for a Strong Economy (CASE) program to encourage Chicago’s leading institutions to support local small businesses’ growth in their neighborhoods.

The expansion will increase the number of committed institutions from 11 to at least 20 and double the number of small businesses helped. Over the last year, the small businesses that participated in the CASE program saw an average increase in revenue of $804,000. CASE has the potential to generate up to $80 million in additional revenue to neighborhood small businesses and create nearly 250 full-time and 125 part-time jobs annually.

“Small businesses are the backbone of Chicago’s economy. Through this unique partnership, many of our City’s large institutions will play an active role in supporting and growing our smaller businesses, creating jobs in neighborhoods all throughout Chicago,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Expanding this program will keep our neighborhood businesses growing and create more jobs for more residents in more communities. That is a win-win for everyone.”

“CASE is strengthening the region’s economic base by helping small businesses improve their productivity and competitiveness. That’s good for our region, and it’s also good for major institutions and government agencies, like Cook County, who are always looking for qualified local suppliers to do business with,” said President Preckwinkle.

Large institutions including hospitals, universities, cultural institutions and corporations spend billions annually on contracts and procurement. Mayor Emanuel and President Preckwinkle launched CASE in March 2014 as a way to encourage these institutions to create jobs and economic opportunities in their neighborhoods by guiding and supporting small businesses through the procurement process. This aligns with other programs Mayor Emanuel has launched, such as the Whole Foods workshops that are supporting small business growth across Englewood, as well as the BUILT in Cook Loan program, started under President Preckwinkle to offer financial assistance to small businesses located in Cook County.

This year, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), Museums in the Park, and Northwestern University will join the group of 11 anchor institutions including: Advocate Health Care, BMO Harris Bank, the City of Chicago, Cook County, ComEd, the Illinois Institute of Technology, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Rush University Medical Center, University of Chicago, University of Chicago Medical Center, and University of Illinois at Chicago. CASE aims to graduate an additional 100 businesses, strengthen its partnership with local business support services, and grow the anchor network to at least 20 institutions this year.

Participants in the first round of CASE have successfully added jobs and/or increased the size of their contracts with anchor institutions. For example, after completing the program, Digby’s Detective & Security Agency, Inc., a 300-person detective agency, won a CTA contract that has allowed the company to hire an additional 34 people. Another member of the first group, Inter-City Supply Co., Inc., was able to expand an existing contract it had with University of Chicago Medical Center by 50 percent by servicing new patient technologies.

“The CASE program is revolutionary in that it gives our local businesses an opportunity to work with each other. We may not be national in scope or have fancy marketing, but local businesses can provide even better service to our anchor institutions. Chicagoans should be doing business together, and this program helps facilitate that,” said Jackie Dyess of Inter-City Supply.

“Our neighborhood assets play a major role in regional economic development. Anchor institutions spend billions a year on contracting and procurement of goods and services. CASE opens this door so that anchors can focus their spending on goods and services offered by local businesses. Given an anchor’s purchasing power, even a small shift can make a large impact,” said Nitika Nautiyal, CASE Executive Director.

Interested businesses can submit applications online at Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.
Both Mayor Emanuel’s Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs and Cook County’s Partnering for Prosperity, An Economic Growth Action Agenda outline economic development strategies, including fostering development of neighborhood businesses and the local supply chain, which the CASE program supports.


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