CHICAGO — The Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council’s 50th annual Chicago Business Opportunity Fair will bring together more than 3,000 minority business owners on Thursday and Friday.
The trade fair, presented by Allstate, is dedicated to the economic growth of minority businesses. The conference, which is taking place at Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 E. Wacker Dr., features education sessions, networking, awards and business opportunities designed to empower Minority Business Enterprises and highlight achievement. People can register onsite.
“We're celebrating 50 years and I'm excited,” said Shelia Morgan, president and CEO of ChicagoMSD.
There have been new components added to the conference each year, Morgan said.
This year, there are new seminars like a conversation that Morgan will take part in discussing the past, present and future of the the organization and the impact it’s had on minority businesses.
Also new this year is a seminar on exporting to places like Africa and China.
“As we continue to grow minority business, we know they don't just exist in the U.S., sometimes they grow faster outside of the country,” Morgan said.
A new addition introduced in 2016 were one-on-one meetings with major corporations. They were so popular that she brought them back this year. The numbers significantly rose this time, she said.
The 12-minute meetings give pre-qualified, certified minority business enterprises a chance to present a proposition that could potentially lead to new contracts, Morgan said. They will learn about the corporation's standards and its procurement processes.
This organization is still very much relevant and needed today, Morgan said.
“We're not done yet, there’s still lot of work that needs to be done,” she said.
Special guests this year include broadcast journalist Roland S. Martin, Anne Pramaggiore, president and CEO of ComEd, Chris Kennedy, chairman of Joseph P. Kennedy Enterprises, Inc. and Henry Cisneros, former United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.