On the Road to Equity

Thomas O'Neill III, Peoria County Board

In the past year, the Peoria County Board’s Minority Business Ad-hoc Committee has made significant progress toward strengthening partnerships with minority, women and disadvantaged-owned businesses (MBEs). The MBE Committee’s mission is to create an environment that stimulates greater participation from the community with particular emphasis on new and minority-owned businesses.

Committee members, representing the county, local minority advocacy groups, trade unions, institutions of higher education, private business and the faith-based community, hope that Peoria County’s MBE initiative will become the leading model of excellence in county governments nationwide. The committee believes it can achieve this vision by:

  • Continuing to elevate and stimulate MBE growth and development through the provision of a one-stop shop
  • Cultivating mutually beneficial partnerships to expand financial sustainability for new and minority businesses
  • Engaging the community to improve the quality of life for all citizens in Peoria County.

The MBE Committee is currently finalizing an implementation plan for achieving its three strategic goals: increasing MBE participation within the Peoria County organization, increasing MBE capacity in the community, and raising awareness of opportunities and resources available to new and minority business owners.

Raising awareness of the initiative is a crucial first step toward increasing the amount of dollars spent on contracts with minority-owned businesses. The more MBE vendors we identify as providing required services, the more bids we can solicit from these vendors, and the more likely we are to award business to minority owners and meet the goal of increasing MBE participation.

To further Peoria County’s MBE initiative, the committee enumerated a series of short-term action tasks that will, in part, be the foundation upon which the county will create a one-stop shop to serve as a comprehensive resource for entrepreneurs and MBEs. Short-term tasks include sowing partnerships with local advocacy groups and service providers, cultivating a successful mentoring program from these partnerships and facilitating resources for budding businesses. Ultimately, the one-stop shop will be the conduit from conception to completion for entrepreneurs and existing MBEs.

By developing a strategic plan, Peoria County’s Minority Business Ad-hoc Committee has successfully begun its journey toward fostering an environment that expands small business and serves as a catalyst for new enterprise and minority-owned business. The committee will continue this journey by implementing its short-term action agenda that includes performance measures for accountability. Interested entrepreneurs and business owners may contact Peoria County at (309) 672-6931. iBi

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