villivalam 052524SPRINGFIELD - In an effort to recognize and support diverse businesses across Illinois, State Senator Ram Villivalam passed a resolution to call for continuing minority and women owned diversity business enterprise programs.

“It is important that we continue fighting for more economic opportunities within our communities,” said Villivalam (D-Chicago). “Small and diverse businesses are the essential backbone of our neighborhoods, and provide vital opportunities for all.”

After the U.S. Supreme Court deemed affirmative action in college admissions unconstitutional, the court will potentially take up cases regarding diversity business enterprise programs and its constitutionality. This will potentially create challenges for DBE programs across the country – including in Illinois. Villivalam’s resolution recognizes the importance, need and utilization of M/W/DBE programs within the state, while urging Congress to take action to support these programs.

“The State of Illinois is stronger because of its diversity and inclusion practices,” said Jacqueline Gomez, executive director of the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association. “That’s why it’s crucial that we do all we can to maintain and strengthen our business diversity programs because it’s important not only for promoting fairness and equity but also for fostering innovation and promoting economic empowerment.”

M/W/DBE programs have continued to make a large impact on businesses, particularly in providing access to opportunities within the construction and engineering industries. The Illinois Department of Transportation and Illinois Tollway have created training programs and strategic partnerships for diverse business across the state to grow their economic opportunities while improving infrastructure across the state.

“These key programs have created a pathway for small and diverse engineering companies to play a significant role in the design and construction of our state’s critical infrastructure,” said Kevin Artl, president and CEO of American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois. “In Illinois, IDOT, Tollway, and the Illinois Capital Development Board have effectively and credibly used these programs to help Illinois businesses succeed and grow.”

Through the use of DBE programs across the state, the Move Illinois Forward Program – led by the Tollway – has committed more than $2.9 billion to small, diverse and veteran-owned construction and professional services. IDOT now certifies over 2,945 diverse businesses in Illinois.

“In Illinois, equity contracting isn’t merely a goal –it’s a necessity for robust economic development,” said Jaemie Neely, executive director of Federation of Women Contractors Chicago. When we prioritize the inclusion of minority and women-owned businesses, we drive innovation, create jobs, and build sustainable communities. The M/W/D/BE programs are essential and intertwined with the economic success of Illinois.”

Senate Resolution 868 was adopted by the Senate on Saturday, and is now recognized.