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Creating and Supporting Black-Owned Businesses a Solution to Joblessness in Chicago


April 7, 2017

Chelsea Whittington, Sr. External Affairs Manager
(773) 451-3524


Creating and Supporting Black-Owned Businesses a Solution to Joblessness in Chicago

CHICAGO, IL. – April 7, 2017 –The Chicago Urban League’s Workforce Development Director Andrew Wells today issued the following statement in response to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) March 2017 jobs report:

“The national unemployment rate declined slightly to 4.5%, but African Americans, in Chicago especially, are still struggling to establish solid footing in the labor market.  Illinois ended 2016 with the highest Black unemployment rate in the nation (, and this alarming rate should be cause for outrage.  What’s worse, this problem won’t be solved with everyone securing typical ‘9 to 5’ employment. Most jobs today don’t pay enough to cover bills along with a cushion for savings and other opportunities to build wealth.  Thankfully, there is another way to move the meter on unemployment in Chicago’s Black communities – entrepreneurship.

The development of Black-owned businesses continues to be a solution that can positively impact long-term employment and increase wealth in the Black community. Without question, a communities’ economic empowerment is linked to entrepreneurial success.  Asset building is the foundation for sustainable wealth creation. The reality is, however, that racial discrimination and other sustained obstructions, including limited access to financial, human and social capital have greatly harmed the financial prospects of the African American business community more than any other.

As the League’s Director of Entrepreneurship notes, entrepreneurs are central to solving the unemployment crisis because they create jobs in the community. They also add to the dynamic of stable neighborhoods and communities. Through our Entrepreneurship Center, the Chicago Urban League is providing the guidance, tools and access to capital for Chicagoans with dreams of ‘owning their own.’ Once a solid blueprint is in place for the business venture and capital is secured, then the opportunities for hiring come into play.

Jameal, a former client at the League, hadn’t been able to find a decent paying job for more than two years.  He used his culinary skills to make ends meet by selling lunches/dinners. At age 30, he is now in search of a small commercial space to start a restaurant, but is having trouble finding an affordable space to rent. Thankfully, he hasn’t given up and is determined to change his reality by doing what he feels is necessary to create a better life for himself and his family.  Better still, when Jameal secures a location, he looks forward to providing good-paying jobs to people in his community.  It then rests on all of us to support his venture and others like it to ensure that the doors stay open and more instances of economic stability are created.

Jameal represents one of many with big dreams and unwavering ambition. Support of determined young entrepreneurs with quality products is a no-brainer. The League is all in, and it is our hope more in our city will join me in supporting small businesses. And, I look forward to one day attending Jameal’s restaurant grand opening.”


To schedule an interview with Mr. Wells, please email


About the Chicago Urban League

Established in 1916, the Chicago Urban League works for economic, educational and social progress for African Americans and promotes strong sustainable communities through advocacy, collaboration and innovation. For more information, visit Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.