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Partner spotlight: Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Partner spotlight: Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Partner spotlight: Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Partner spotlight: Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

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For the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the organization’s mission, goals, and contributions all focus on the same familial ideal: community.

For the past 30 years, the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC) has pledged to cultivate knowledge, connections, and collaboration to effect transformational social change and achieve sustainable economic impact through entrepreneurship. As the organization celebrates its 31st anniversary in 2021, the IHCC’s impact throughout the state of Illinois is larger than ever.

“We’re one of few organizations in the state of Illinois that is focused on helping businesses find capital and technical assistance for small businesses to keep their doors open,” IHCC President & Chief Executive Officer Jaime di Paulo said.

Founded in 1990 as the Mexican American Chamber of Commerce of Illinois, today the IHCC has become the largest Hispanic business organization throughout Illinois and the Midwest, representing more than 120,000 businesses that contribute a combined $53 billion to the state’s economy each year.

The IHCC offers several programs designed to help various small businesses, including its:

  • Small Business Development Center, which offers no-cost advising and is dedicated to helping new entrepreneurs realize their dream of business ownership.
  • Small Business Transportation Resource Center, which helps increase the number of small businesses that are prepared to compete for, and enter into, transportation-related prime and subcontract opportunities.
  • Procurement Technical Assistance Center, advises business owners on how to maximize opportunities and get exposed to local, statewide, and government agencies.
  • Illinois Tollway Technical Assistance Center, which is designed to prepare emerging and established transportation-related construction firms to participate on highway and vertical construction contracts.
  • Latinx Incubator, a partnership with 1871 that creates pathways for Latinx and underrepresented entrepreneurs to participate in and contribute to the tech and innovation economy.
  • Cook County COVID-19 Recovery Small Businesses Assistance Program, which assists with technical assistance to small businesses across Cook County.
  • Illinois Latino Small Business Partnership, which provides one-to-one technical assistance to small businesses statewide.

Each of these programs offer Hispanic small business owners the resources, training, and opportunities they may not otherwise have access to. And, while the Small Business Administration defines a small business as one with 1,500 employees or fewer, the goal of the IHCC to help the true small businesses that are pillars in communities throughout Chicagoland and Illinois.

“In our world, a business with 20 employees is a small business,” di Paulo said. “So, we need to help them get an opportunity. Business owners are busy running a business, and the more opportunity you can give them, the better they’re going to be. It’s all about relationships.”

That was especially true in 2020, a trying year in which the COVID-19 pandemic impacted small businesses throughout Chicagoland, Illinois, and the country. Last year alone, the IHCC helped small businesses create or retain more than 18,000 jobs, while helping businesses access more than $88 million in resources and providing nearly 15,000 hours of counsel to its members.

For the past several years, Wintrust has been proud to partner with and support the IHCC and its members to help Latino-owned small businesses thrive in our communities. The Wintrust/IHCC partnership was “a marriage waiting to happen,” di Paulo said.

“Small companies have a difficult time accessing capital from bigger banks. Working with Wintrust, it’s a mid-size bank that cares about small businesses and wants to help small businesses grow,” di Paulo said. “It’s essential to work with banks like Wintrust to make small businesses grow.”

Di Paulo said Wintrust was a key reason the IHCC was able to provide more than $88 million in resources to its members during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only did Wintrust provide Paycheck Protection Plan loans to small businesses that had previously banked with us, but we also helped numerous businesses introduced to us by the IHCC that we had no previous relationship with.

But, PPP loans are only part of the story when it comes to the full scope of the IHCC partnership.

“Whenever I email them, they respond right away,” said Daniel Rosas, IHCC’s director of Cook County COVID-19 Recovery Small Business Assistance Program. “We have a personal connection, which is great. And, they’ve helped me learn and ease into this position. When I have big questions, small questions, they’re on it.”

Aside from the IHCC using Wintrust as its operational bank account and for a line of credit, one of the IHCC conference rooms at its Downtown Chicago office is named the Wintrust Business Center. It’s in this room where Hispanic small business owners can come and take advantage of the IHCC’s many programs.

“The IHCC has long been a pillar for the Hispanic business community that has lived up to its mission of being a connector for all businesses, providing expertise in many areas of technical assistance and opportunities for all to have the economic impact we need in our communities and beyond,” Wintrust Business Development Officer Antonio Guillen said.

Di Paulo said one of the main reasons the partnership between the IHCC and Wintrust is so impactful is that each organization understands the importance of the smaller communities woven throughout Chicagoland. Whether customers step into Wintrust Bank-Pilsen, Lake Forest Bank & Trust, Hyde Park Bank, or any of the more than 170 Wintrust Community Bank locations, the vibe of the community is present throughout the branch.

“Wintrust lives and breathes the culture of the community, and that’s key,” di Paulo said. “Wintrust is culturally aware of what’s happening in the community. They address it, and they take care of people.”

Taking care of people in our communities—Hispanic small business owners, those they employ, and those they serve—is precisely what the IHCC has done for more than 30 years. And, it’s why Wintrust is so proud to count the IHCC among our partners.

“For 30 years the IHCC has provided indispensable training, resources, and connections to the Hispanic entrepreneur and professional community,” Wintrust Business Banking Relationship Manager Miguel A. Gomez said. “They are a key advocate for Latinos in Illinois”

To learn more about the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and its programs, visit https://ihccbusiness.net.

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