CHICAGO— The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) today announced that women entrepreneurs who want to expand their businesses and create jobs should attend an upcoming conference that will feature informative programs and opportunities for networking.
The second annual Women Business Owners Symposium (WBOS) will be held March 27 at the UIC Forum, 725 W. Roosevelt Road. The event is free and organized by DCEO with support from Nicor Gas, Macy’s, Verizon, and Score Chicago.
The symposium has the theme “It’s your time!” The event will support women considering whether to become their own boss, or those who already have a business but are looking for help to grow.
“Illinois is a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship,” Governor Pat Quinn said. “It’s no surprise that women-owned businesses are leading the way and having a major impact on job creation. This event will help women-owned businesses accelerate their growth.”
Highlights will include keynote speeches by Marianne O’Brien Markowitz, acting administrator at the Small Business Administration (SBA), and Beth Reese, president of Nicor Gas. Free day care will be provided on site and an exhibit hall will include opportunities for one-on-one counseling with representatives of more than 60 business resource agencies.
The symposium will include panels on topics such as contracting opportunities in the Affordable Care Act; making a product or service part of the state’s “Buy Illinois” initiative; procurement opportunities in the public and private sectors; access to capital; and opportunities for women in science, technology, engineering and math. Melissa Harris, business columnist at the Chicago Tribune, will moderate the panels.
A 2013 study commissioned by American Express estimated that Illinois has 382,700 women-owned enterprises, about 30 percent of all firms and an increase of 11.5 percent from 2007. The female-led businesses had estimated sales totaling $57.35 billion in 2013, up nearly 7 percent since 2007.
“Women are having a greater impact in all business segments. The state of Illinois is committed to seeing this momentum continue and to giving female entrepreneurs the tools they need to thrive,” DCEO Director Adam Pollet said.
Pollet will take part in the symposium as a panelist. He will discuss governmental programs with Robert Steiner, director of the Illinois District at the SBA, and Ellisa Johnson, data specialist at the U.S. Census Bureau.
Other panelists include Deborah DeHaas, vice chairman and chief inclusion officer at Deloitte LLP; Maria Colangelo, vice president at Wintrust Bank; Linda McGill Boasmond, owner and president of Cedar Concepts Corp.; Kapila Viges, director of EnterpriseWorks Chicago at the University of Illinois; Pat Harris, global chief diversity officer at McDonald’s Corp.; Georgia Marsh, chief development officer at the Women’s Business Development Center; Myra C. Mormile-Wolper, senior associate at Kelley Drye & Warren LLP; and Shawne Duperon of Shawne TV.
Additional state agency participants include Julie Hamos, director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, and Jennifer Tirey, bureau chief for the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
“Women enterprises in the state of Illinois should be recognized as a driving economic force,” said Carol Bell, director of women’s business development at DCEO. “It’s our hope that the 2014 WBOS will draw particular attention to the public and private resources that exist to help women-owned firms reach the next competitive level.”
WBOS will run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on March 27. To register or find out more information, call 312-814-0007 or visit http://www.ildceo.net/WBOS. Registration is allowed on site the day of the event.
For more information on doing business in Illinois, go to http://www.illinois.gov/dceo.