Black Business Organizations Say State-Funded Colleges and Universities Have ‘Abysmal’ Record of Minority Participation

Black Business Organizations Say State-Funded Colleges and Universities Have 'Abysmal' Record of Minority Participation
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Black Business Organizations Say State-Funded Colleges and Universities Have ‘Abysmal’ Record of Minority Participation (Chicago, IL) — The Chicago Southland Black Chamber of Commerce, together with other Black business and contracting organizations, has called for a Subject Matter Hearing with the Illinois House of Representatives Appropriations – Higher Education Committee, chaired by State Representative La Shawn K. Ford, to bring to attention the abysmal minority participation numbers reported by state-funded colleges and universities. The press conference, scheduled for 9:15 am on Thursday, March 28, is being held before the 10 am hearing at the Michael A. Bilandic Building in Chicago. The black business organizations feel that the colleges and universities have not been meeting their minority participation goals, with some community colleges reporting 0%. Aside from the City Colleges of Chicago, most other colleges or universities in Illinois are not meeting their goals.

“The numbers are outright horrible for minority participation. When you look at black participation, it’s abysmal and God-awful,” stated Dr. Cornel Darden Jr., Chairman of the Chicago Southland Black Chamber of Commerce.

The Chicago Southland Black Chamber of Commerce and Industry is expected to be joined by other black business organizations such as the Black Contractors United, Black Contractors Owners and Executives, the African American Contractors Association, and members of the Black media and press in Chicago.

The law governing participation goals in contracting at Illinois Community Colleges went into effect in 2017 and the Illinois Black Caucus raised the goals from 20% to 30% in 2021.

“We’ve been advocating and attempting to interface with the community colleges in Illinois since 2017. The amount of discrimination that we have witnessed is wanton and blatant. We now have many Black businesses even calling for a sort of reparations to cover the years going back to 2017 since the community colleges deliberately tried to stop black businesses from participating,” stated Dr. Darden. “We’re looking to see legislation passed to address these issues. Currently black businesses have lost over $1 billion dollars from these colleges and universities discouraging us from participating,” Darden continued.

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James Taylor, the owner of Kankakee-based Kankakee City News, stated of his interactions with Kankakee Community College President Dr. Michael Boyd, “We found President Boyd to be resistive of efforts to bridge the gap between KCC’s current spending levels and a more inclusive and representative spending level with African American owned firms.”

“What we need for the community colleges and even the universities are sheltered markets. Sheltered markets will help to ensure that community colleges reach their goals,” said Darden.

Sheltered Markets

Sheltered Markets are a procurement procedure in which certain state contracts are selected and specifically set aside for businesses owned and controlled by minorities, women, and persons with disabilities through competitive solicitations. Sheltered markets are established by the BEP Council when it finds a pattern of racial, gender, or disability-based discrimination in a particular industry. When establishing a new sheltered market or adjusting an existing one, the BEP Council identifies the evidence used to make a determination and the market segment that falls under the sheltered market. The two sheltered markets currently available are IT/telecom and advertising. The sheltered market for advertising is only for certified African-American-owned and Hispanic-owned business enterprises.

Black Business Organizations Say State-Funded Colleges and Universities Have ‘Abysmal’ Record of Minority Participation

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