Illinois recognizes Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

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Asian American Pacific Islander

May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Information provided by the Governor’s Office

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (May 6, 2021) – The State of Illinois today announced a series of events and resources to be offered during May’s National Asian American and Pacific Island (AAPI) Heritage Month. Hosted by the Illinois Department of Commerce (DCEO) Office of Minority Economic Empowerment (OMEE), events feature a wide variety of topics geared toward supporting the growth of AAPI and minority-owned businesses throughout Illinois.

AAPI community’s importance in Illinois

Additionally, in a move to extend support to AAPI businesses as well as communities throughout the month, Governor JB Pritzker also issued a proclamation recognizing the contributions of Illinois’ 21,000 AAPI-owned small businesses and the role they play in our communities and the Illinois economy.

“Throughout the state, our Asian American and Pacific Islander residents and businesses are essential to the fabric of our communities and play a key role in building a 21st century economy,” said Gov. Pritzker. “Unfortunately, we know all too well that these same valued residents have faced disproportionate and hateful attacks — during the pandemic and well before it — and this has put an especially tough burden on our small business owners and entrepreneurs. As we prioritize a swift economic recovery from COVID-19, we are committed to ensuring equity is at the forefront of our response and that AAPI businesses receive the support needed to thrive this month and all year round.”

May webinars

Throughout the month of May, DCEO will be hosting business webinars that will feature participation by community and civic leaders, elected officials and policymakers at the state, federal and local level — all working to elevate opportunities for AAPI businesses and residents to succeed in Illinois. A full list of the events can be found below:

  • May 12, 2021 at 11 a.m., “Women’s Webinar Wednesday: Business Growth Opportunities for AAPI Community”
    • Join the SBA and DCEO-OMEE for a presentation on resources exclusively marketed for AAPI- and women-owned businesses by discussing ways to access business growth opportunities. Register here.
  • May 20, 2021 at noon, “Addressing Anti-Asian Hate and Supporting the AAPI Business Community”
    • AAPI-owned businesses nationwide have been targeted disproportionately and suffered significant loss during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Stop AAPI Hate, between March 2020 and February 2021, Asian-owned businesses were the primary site of AAPI discrimination with 35.4% of reported incidents. Join a series of business and community leaders for a discussion on how to support AAPI businesses in Illinois amid the trying times. Register here.
  • May 25, 2021 at 1 a.m., “Fireside Chat: AAPI Business Leaders Thriving Across Illinois Register”
    • Hear from a group of small businesses throughout the state as they share their experiences, including barriers they have overcome, success stories, ways they have leveraged resources, and how we can work to ensure that Illinois is a place where AAPI businesses can thrive. Register here.
  • May 26, 2021 at 10 a.m., “OMEE & Illinois SBDC Network Presents: Advancing the Development of Minority Entrepreneurship – Marketing Strategies”
    • Join DCEO and the SBDC Chinese Mutual Aid Association (CMAA) for a workshop on marketing strategies tailored to AAPI businesses to help increase your visibility and market share. Register here.
  • May 27, 2021 at 9 a.m., “World Trade Month: Doing Business in China”
    • Crossing over in May’s World Trade Month, DCEO will make its Office of Trade and Investment available to lead an expert panel, including Chinese exporting agencies, providing an overview of opportunities, trends, challenges, and resources for Illinois business interested in the Chinese marketplace. Presentations will be in English, but slides will include both English and Mandarin and panelists are prepared to answer questions in either language. Register here.
  • May 28, 2021 at noon, “Navigating the Benefits of the American Rescue Plan for AAPI Small Businesses and Avoiding Predatory Lending”
    • US Sen. Tammy Duckworth joins DCEO Acting Director Garcia for opening remarks and a conversation on the latest federal stimulus enacted, the American Rescue Plan Act. Join this conversation with representatives from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Small Business Majority, the Consumer Fraud Bureau, and the AAPI Constituent Advocate who will highlight how federal, state, and local partners can support AAPI businesses in accessing funding and technical assistance.

Celebrating the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities

“This May, we are proud to join Gov. Pritzker in celebrating the indelible contributions our Asian American and Pacific Islander residents and businesses in Chicago and throughout Illinois,” said Dennis Mondero, Chinese Mutual Aid Association Executive Director. “CMAA SBDC is proud to serve the Asian American community in Illinois, and we are grateful for the administration’s continued support and focus on outreach to meet all of our small businesses where they are. We look forward to engaging with DCEO and our many partners this month and beyond to extend resources to support a strong recovery from the pandemic.”

For more on AAPI Heritage Month and how to sign up for events in May, please visit DCEO’s website. For updates on other small business supports available, call the First Stop hotline at 1-800-252-2923, or follow us @IllinoisDCEO for updates on programs.