State data kays out status of Black small businesses in Illinois – WEEK | 25 News Now

PEORIA (25News Now) – A survey of Black-owned businesses across Illinois is the first of its kind, assessing what minority businesses look like and what specific challenges they face.

According to the more than 50-page report, Black-owned businesses across Illinois are often extremely small operations. The survey shows 66% of business owners are the only employee, and only 34% have full-time staff. More than half also operate from their homes and don’t have brick-and-mortar storefronts.

“I’m literally 80 hours a week now, barely having time for family. I have a large family now,” Manager of newly renamed and relocated Urban Clothing and Shoes Cameron Polansky said.

His wife is a stay-at-home mom to their young children. Once she’s able to start working again, she hopes to open her own daycare business.

More than half, 56%, of business owners said they were the primary breadwinner for their families.

”I actually had to close the store [Wednesday] just to come to this seminar,” Polansky said. His store just moved to the West Main neighborhood, not too far from established storefronts like Fifth Avenue Threads. He has three employees manning the store.

Illinois’ Department of Commerce, in conjunction with the Chicago Urban League and Chicago State University, surveyed 1,355 Black-owned businesses. There is nearly 150,000 total in the state. The results were presented at the Minority Business Development Center Wednesday afternoon.

The self-reported data indicates about 60% of those businesses make less than $50,000 in revenue a year, with 34% only bringing in $10,000 or less. The survey also identified areas of growth for minority businesses statewide, showing many had trouble accessing loans and lines of credit and breaking through already-established networks.

Of the small number of businesses able to hire more staff, 85% of them hire Black employees.

“Most Black people want to work for Black companies to support each other,” AFE Construction Co-owner Monica Arbuckle said. “I think it’s more of a community thing.”

Arbuckle and her husband started AFE Construction while working full-time as engineers. They run the business out of their home, without a formal office.

They are one of the larger Black-owned businesses. They work in construction and construction management across Central Illinois, bringing in around $4 million in business a year.

They have a consistent staff of six employees, most of whom are Black according to Arbuckle. They hire from local unions for their work projects.

In his presentation to business owners, Illinois Office of Minority Economic Development Matthew J Simpson helped these local owners address the problems they face and how to work around them. Simpson also tried to show businesses that free resources exist on a state and municipal level.

Representatives from the Dept. of Commerce, the Federal Department of Commerce, and Peoria County were present. There was not a representative from the City of Peoria.

Copyright 2023 WEEK. All rights reserved.

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April 13, 2023 at 06:59AM

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