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College assists initiative for local minority-owned small businesses

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Nov 24, 2021

The Lake County Community Foundation (LCCF) recently launched the Small Business Growth Initiative (SBGI), a new program to support small businesses owned by people of color within priority communities in Lake County. The Illinois Small Business Development and International Trade Center (SBDC/ITC) at College of Lake County (CLC) is playing a key role in the SBGI pilot program.

SBDC logoThe initiative is part of LCCF’s ongoing work to address racial wealth disparity and contribute to positive social and economic change in Lake County. For the SBGI pilot, LCCF has partnered with Drip & Culture, a socially minded coffee and apparel brand located in Waukegan.

The SBDC/ITC provides technical assistance to businesses based on the results of a growth assessment and pairs the business owners with subject matter experts in areas identified for growth. The center also is working to create collaborative spaces for peer-to-peer support and mentorship between small business owners in Lake County.

“Failure rates for small businesses over a 10-year period is approximately 66 percent,” said SBDC/ITC Manager Mitch Bienvenue. “Business survival and growth are marked by things like identifying and meeting specific customer needs, differentiating from the competition, investing in marketing, securing capital and managing cash flow. Small businesses have access to a variety of resources to support their success, and your local SBDC is one of those resources.”

LCCF has been working closely with the SBDC/ITC, Lake County Partners, Allies for Community Business and local community leaders to build this comprehensive program that will ultimately result in a network of support for small businesses owned by people of color.

The SBDC/ITC provides no cost, confidential business advising and low-cost, interactive workshops and is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (ILDCEO) and the CLC. For more information, call (847) 543-2033, email or visit

About College of Lake County

College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes and is a national leader in many areas, including sustainability and conservation.