Sen. Napoleon Harris, III

A program where Black businesses finally get the resources they need

SPRINGFIELD – To better support Black-owned businesses, State Senator Napoleon Harris, III (D-Harvey) is pushing to create the Black Wall Street Program to increase the progress of Black businesses in Illinois.

"We can reduce the challenges Black businesses face by providing access to resources that help them develop," Harris said. "Supporting Black businesses helps not just the businesses, but the entire community that surrounds them."

House Bill 1960 would require the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to create and administer this program to stimulate black businesses' growth and development in under-served communities throughout the state of Illinois.

Also, DCEO would provide loan and financial assistance to communities that established themselves as Black Wall Street Districts.

Municipalities with a 70% African American population would be eligible to apply for loans to distribute to local Black-owned businesses each year. However, a city applying for a loan would have to pass an ordinance declaring its intent to create a Black Wall Street Business District.

DCEO would also have to create an African American contractor and engineer's database and a Black Wall Street Investment Hub.

The Hub would assist African American-owned businesses entities and people in Black Wall Street business districts. Some of the Hub's services would be helping with construction costs, construction plans, and other services to help the businesses be successful.

"Helping a Black businesses succeed goes far beyond just providing loans. We have to provide them with the resources that help them navigate the complicated process of getting a business up and running," Harris said.

On Wednesday, House Bill 1960 was approved by the Senate Executive Committee and now will head to the Senate floor for further discussion.