CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois has more than 132,000 Black-owned businesses, and August is Black Business Month.
The state said the advancement of minority-owned businesses is essential to the growth of Illinois' economy. However, the last year and a half have been difficult with business owners working long hours, losing sleep and looking for new ways to attract customers.
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"What I'm hearing from the business owners that we talk to across the state is that they're not giving up, for one, and they are excited about the relief effort that has been coming down," said Siri Hibbler, CEO and founder of the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce. "They're asking us some of the creative ways they can market themselves. They're focusing a lot on marketing, more so probably than they did before, and they're realizing their customer base is not just right around the corner, right next door. Their customer base is broad, so they're looking at how to reach people all over the city, all over the county, all over the state if they have to."
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Tasha Brown, director of ScaleUP for the Women's Business Development Center, said a rising number of people are venturing out on their own,
"From 2020 to 2021, we've actually seen a 30% increase in clients, so there is this interest in starting a business," Brown said.
Brown said people are becoming "entrepreneurs of necessity."
"Over 700 women are starting businesses every day, so yes, there is this uptick in interest because people now know that they have to be their own boss in order to provide for their families," Brown said.