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Business After Hours event welcomes Illinois SBDC at SSEGI

Image courtesy of Tonya Biglow

A March 21 Business After Hours Event welcomed the Illinois Small Business Development Center at SSEGI. It was sponsored by Wintrust Community Banks and hosted by the City of Markham.

This new resource center opened March 1. The SBDC will support existing business owners and help budding entrepreneurs get started.

“Our Association, as part of the South Suburban Economic Growth Initiative, has heard about the need for small business and entrepreneur support,” said Kristi DeLaurentiis, SSMMA executive director, in a related press release. “Our communities came together in support of a SBDC that serves our Southland region and brings a commitment to growing the wealth and opportunity of local residents.”

The center’s director, Vicki Foeman Brown, is a resourceful leader adept at implementing high-profile, image-based marketing programs and business development plans for both public and private industries. Before joining the Illinois SBDC network, Ms. Brown launched the Southland Regional ADME Workshops with the Office of Minority Empowerment for the Illinois Department of Economic Opportunity (DCEO).  She was also a facilitator for the Markham CenterPoint for Business Leaders & Entrepreneurs Network with Governors State University.

Ms. Brown and staff will provide guidance for business growth through one-on-one confidential business consultation; assist with business, management and marketing plans; financial assessment and guidance; in-depth business training and more. As of March 29, they have had 204 contacts sign-up for services, and 25 clients receiving support for their businesses, she said. The nature of the businesses range from tech to manufacturing to health.

“There are a lot of small business venturers out here,” said Jay Readey, SSEGI project manager. “It’s time to bring them together in an entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

The SBDC is a collaborative partnership between SSMMA and SSEGI, and funded by grants from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and Cook County.

“The new Illinois Small Business Development Center will provide much-needed resources for entrepreneurs and small businesses in Chicago’s Southland,” Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle said. “I am pleased Cook County is one of the partners that helped make this a reality.”

Illinois SBDC at SSEGI serving the Southland is located at 1920 W. 174th Street, East Hazel Crest, IL 60429. Ms. Brown can be reached at or 708-232-3161. For more information, visit More Business After Hours photos from Tonya Biglow are here.

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