Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed an executive order Wednesday designed to improve access to state contracts for businesses owned by minorities, women and people with disabilities.
"We need to lift up minorities, women, and persons with disabilities who have been overlooked within our society and are underrepresented in our economy," Rauner said in a statement. "Illinois is one of the most diverse states in the country, yet a 2015 study found that disparities exist between the number of minority-owned and women-owned businesses and their utilization on contracts and subcontracts through the state. This executive order seeks to address this disparity and ensure more minority-owned businesses are given the opportunity to do business with the state."
Under Rauner's executive order, the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS) will oversee implementation of recommendations made in the 2015 Disparity Study.
The executive order looks to improve access to state markets for these businesses and help them become more competitive bidders through a business mentoring program, among other initiatives.
It also "directs CMS to determine whether the creation of 'Sheltered Markets' can reduce disparities and, if so, take appropriate steps to establish sheltered markets in industry-specific areas," according to the governor's news release.
"This executive order, especially the thoughtful consideration of use of Sheltered Markets, is perhaps the most important step the state of Illinois has taken toward bringing equity to black and minority-owned businesses in the state," said Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Larry Ivory.
The state has a goal of having 20 percent of contracts awarded to minority businesses.