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Cook County government seeks business engagement and equity


(The Center Square) – Cook County officials are pushing for more diversity among vendors and government partners.

The Pathways to Cook County Summit in Chicago encouraged engagement with county government and focused on growing minority, women-owned and veteran-owned businesses.

Illinois Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Lou Sandoval said business owners should diversify.

“They’re building business resilience for themselves by investing in diverse suppliers and helping raise those businesses up. That raising can be transformational for small businesses,” Sandoval said.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle made a pitch to job seekers.

“I want to say that working in government is not only rewarding, but also offers a variety of roles that have a direct impact on the communities in which we live,” Preckwinkle said.

Cook County is the fourth largest employer in Chicago. According to Reboot Illinois, the top three employers are also government entities: the federal government, Chicago Public Schools and the city of Chicago.

At the Pathways to Cook County Summit, Sandoval offered advice to young and future business owners.

“There are two challenges that I’ve seen in advising small businesses they try to scale. One, the ability to scale operations, and two, the ability to invest in themselves to grow,” Sandoval said.

Business owners build resilience when they diversify, he said.

“Don’t let one client become so big that you can’t survive their loss. Keep them happy, as you should, but add others and learn to spread your risk,” Sandoval added.

Sandoval also said that business owners are the backbone of their communities and of the nation.

The event for Cook County vendors and organizational partners was held at the University of Illinois at Chicago.