CHICAGO, May 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Chicago United will announce today that
several major enterprises from various industries have committed to the
organization's Five Forward Initiative to strengthen the regional economy
by expanding spending and partnerships with minority-owned businesses.
The announcement will take place at 9:30 a.m. CT at Primera Engineers,
100 S. Wacker Dr., Suite 700.
Five Forward is a strategic initiative that enlists the commitment of
CEOs of mid- to large-sized corporations in the Chicago metropolitan area
to establish or expand business relationships with five current and/or new
local minority firms. The initiative is designed to build a stronger
regional economy and minority businesses of scale.
By committing to the Five Forward Initiative, local corporations and
other institutions will set a precedent in partnering with local minority
firms that are equally invested in the region and prepared to do business
with them. Further, they will receive the value of innovation from local
MBEs while supporting a community whose strength will help fuel the local
Those that have made a commitment under the Five Forward Initiative
-- Advocate Health Care
-- City Colleges of Chicago
-- Harris Bank
-- Health Care Service Corp.
-- Loop Capital Markets
-- Macy's Inc.
-- McDonald's Corp. USA
-- Merrill Lynch
-- Mesirow Financial
-- Rush University Medical Center
-- The University of Chicago Medical Center
In committing to this plan for expanding business in the region, each
-- Measure Five Forward progress for five years
-- Create and/or maintain a formal business diversity program that
emphasizes spending with Chicago area businesses and;
-- Collect and report to Chicago United detailed spending data, including
the location, race, gender, industry and dollar amounts spent with
their selected Five Forward vendors.
To illustrate local impact, Chicago United will issue an annual report
of local mid- to large-sized corporations' spending activities with local
Minority firms comprise 19.74% of all firms, but receive only 2.6% of
all sales and receipts, according to 2002 Census data. This alarming
statistic prompted the need to develop a focused, growth-oriented strategy
to reduce disparities and support growth and inclusion. As a first step,
Chicago United enlisted corporate participation to combat the issue and to
build a racially diverse leadership continuum for a stronger social and
economic climate in the Chicago area.
"The commitment of these companies symbolizes a common vision of how
more inclusive practices lead to a stronger regional economy," said
Advocate Health Care President and Chief Executive Officer and Chicago
United Chairman Jim Skogsbergh. "As minority-owned enterprises thrive, so
will employment throughout the region."
This approach to regional growth was supported by a recent report from
Chicago United and the Center for Urban Economic Development of the
University of Illinois at Chicago entitled "Building a Stronger Regional
Economy Through Minority Business Development." Based on a pilot study,
this report looked at the economic impact of direct corporate spending with
the minority business enterprises (MBEs) of the Chicago area.
The report stated that a small sample of 14 companies had significant
impact. Approximately $228 million in corporate spending with local MBEs
was responsible for a total estimated impact of roughly $425 million in
2006. Furthermore, it is estimated that direct spending by the companies
that responded to the study generated 2,143 jobs in local MBEs, as well as
an additional 1,860 jobs through successive rounds of economic activity.
This means total regional employment associated with this spending is about
Entrepreneurial growth companies account for at least two-thirds of net
new jobs in the American economy, according to the Five Forward Initiative
report. According to Chicago United, creating and maintaining a formal
business diversity program doesn't mean terminating current partnerships.
In fact, the organization recommends building such a program using MBEs
that have an established track record of delivering results for large
"These firms drive innovation and prosperity in nearly every American
community, so it's only fitting that they become the focus of our economic
development efforts," said James Tyree, chairman and chief executive
officer of Mesirow Financial, and chairman of Chicago United's Econometric
Task Force. "Creating more profitable firms owned by people of color at the
local level will have a significant impact on our regional economy."
Chicago United President Gloria Castillo said the Five Forward plan is
needed to help the Chicago area, even the entire state, remain competitive.
Illinois still trails in the race to capitalize on MBEs as an engine for
growth, according to Minority Business News USA. Michigan, California,
Texas and Florida have at least 10 of the country's top-grossing minority
enterprises. Illinois is home to only six.
"The state of Illinois has the potential to be the frontrunner in
cultivating minority-owned businesses," Castillo said. "The Chicago region
has a great mix of business owners of color who are more than able to
advance business. Chicago United will mobilize the corporate community to
achieve this goal."
The Five Forward initiative, among other programs, continues to advance
Chicago United's mission of driving diversity and inclusion in order to
promote economic growth. This year marks Chicago United's 40th Anniversary.
Under the theme, "Torchbearers of the Dream: Honoring the Past, Shaping the
Chicago United continues its commitment to strengthen Chicago by
closing the gap between race and business.
About Chicago United
Chicago United is the catalyst driving business leaders to maximize
economic impact for all races. Created in 1968, Chicago United was the
first group to bring together racially diverse CEOs with a common goal of
creating a stronger social and economic climate for everyone in Chicago. To
achieve sustainable impact, members focus on multiracial leadership
development in corporate governance and executive level management;
developing a pipeline of future multiracial executive leaders; and
cultivating multiracial business partnerships. Through a fierce brand of
constructive conversation, Chicago United fosters inclusion and provides an
opportunity for senior executives from all racial and ethnic groups to
learn from one another, confront and break down racial barriers and achieve
SOURCE Chicago United