World Business Chicago Launches *new* Access to Capital Program

for Black & Latino Business Owners & Entrepreneurs

in Chicago: Black & Latino Excellence Investment Summit 2022

(CHICAGO) – April 13, 2022 — World Business Chicago, the city’s private-public economic development agency, today announces a pilot program to connect small, minority-owned businesses on the South and West-Sides of Chicago with technical assistance and funding opportunities. Led by the agency’s Community Impact Team, the Black & Latino Excellence Investment Summit is a multi-phased effort that provides counsel, connections to technical assistance, and ultimately, access to capital.

“Minority-owned businesses have greater challenges navigating the process to secure capital,” said LaForce Baker, Vice President, Community Impact, World Business Chicago. “This new program is intended to empower Black and Latino businesses-owners by connecting them directly to technical assistance and sources of capital.”

Active program participants comprise 15 locally-based business-owners in the retail and professional service spaces, like Auto-Lab Complete Car Care Centers looking to expand in Chicago’s South and West neighborhoods. “As an African American Woman, I feel that I do not have the same access to capital as most traditional businesses,” said Wanda Lewis-Fullmer, co-owner, Auto-Lab Complete Car Care Centers. “I am excited to partner with World Business Chicago in driving inclusive economic development throughout the city, ensuring we all have access to realizing the proverbial American Dream of business ownership.”

In order to be eligible small businesses must be for-profit, Chicago-based, and meet the following criteria:

  • Operate in the retail, light manufacturing and/or professional services industries;
  • Over $250,000 in annual revenue;
  • Minimum of three years in business; and,
  • Have identified clear growth and development opportunities requiring capital investment.

“We are excited to participate in this Summit because of the opportunities it provides for us to really interact with participating entrepreneurs, to understand their ambitions, and to work with them to craft the best financing solutions to move them from there they are to where they want to be,” said Cheryl Wilson, Managing Director, CIBC US. “We recognize the critical role these small businesses play in their local communities and are pleased to sponsor the Summit to help them gain access to the insights and resources they need to succeed.”

The program consists of three phases:

  1. Screenings of interested businesses and entrepreneurs (which occurred in March);
  2. One-on-one consulting sessions with technical assistance, business advisors and funders underway now through May;
  3. In-person event on June 16, 2022, when capital commitments will be formally announced and celebrated. Visit

“Access to capital, technical assistance, and strategic public-private partnerships, such as the Black Latino Excellence Investment Summit, provide minority-owned businesses valuable resources to scale and grow,” said SomerCor CEO, Manuel Flores. “We look forward to collaborating with World Business Chicago and other organizations to help build and fulfill the entrepreneurial dream for Black and Latino small businesses on the South and West-Sides.”

Presenting sponsors are CIBC and SomerCor; supporting sponsors include Founders First, JPMorgan Chase and Wintrust Financial.

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About World Business Chicago & its Community Impact Team

World Business Chicago (WBC) serves a critical role in driving inclusive and equitable recovery throughout the city’s 77-neighborhoods. As the city’s economic development agency, World Business Chicago leads business acquisition, workforce and talent, community impact and equity, support of our business community and promotion of Chicago as a leading global city. Most recently Site Selection magazine awarded Chicago with the distinction as the No. #1 Top Metro, for the ninth consecutive year, for business expansion and relocation, as covered by Chicago Inno.  The WBC Community Impact Team supports equitable economic growth through strategies delineated in Chicago’s Recovery Task Force, including the main initiative, INVEST South/West. The Black & Latino Excellence Investment Summit is designed to be an opportunity for Black and Latino business owners to work alongside the City of Chicago and key partners, participating in collective efforts to revitalize our city’s South and West Side neighborhoods.

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