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Illinois utilities big supporter of minority owned businesses, study shows

marksdiversityA recent study chartered by the Illinois Utilities Business Diversity Council reveals $1.05 billion that leading Illinois utilities spent on goods and services provided by minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, and small business enterprises.

In total, the investment added more than $2 billion to the state gross domestic product in 2017.

The study was conducted by, a Chicago-based research company that works with businesses to improve supplier development results.

According to the economic impact study:

• Sourcing from diverse suppliers increased by nearly 8 percent over the previous year.
• In 2017, spending with diverse suppliers supported 14,200 jobs in Illinois and increased employee wages by $798 million throughout the Illinois economy.
• In addition to adding $2.05 billion to the state’s gross domestic product, spending with diverse suppliers enabled federal, state and local governments to collect a total of $341.5 million in taxes.
• The purchase of $1.05 billion from diverse suppliers supported more than 7,000 jobs at diverse supplier companies. Employees of diverse suppliers earned $411 million in wages.

“The results of the study demonstrate that diverse suppliers are key drivers of economic growth, job creation and the financial well-being of our communities and our state,” said Richard J. Mark, chairman of the IUBDC board of directors, and chairman and president of Ameren Illinois. “Every member company in the IUBDC has demonstrated a commitment to not only source from diverse companies, but also to participate actively in developing the capabilities of these firms to participate at a higher level of our supply chains.”

The IUBDC was formed in 2015, with support from the Illinois Commerce Commission, to increase business opportunities for diverse suppliers through closer collaboration, technical development and sharing of best practices among Illinois’ leading utilities. IUBDC charter members include Ameren Illinois, ComEd, Illinois American Water, Nicor Gas, North Shore Gas and Peoples Gas.

In 2017, IUBDC facilitated relationship building with leaders of diverse companies in sectors such as engineering, consulting, finance, legal, real estate and technical services. Through targeted events and outreach initiatives, IUBDC opened the door for more than 400 diverse companies to do business with the utilities in 2017. David Mason + Associates, Inc. is a certified minority-owned business enterprise and now a preferred engineering and construction support services provider to many of Illinois’ largest utilities.

“Our relationships with IUBDC has allowed us to expand our practice into other regional and national opportunities with other utility providers,” said Taylor Mason, principal at David Mason + Associates. “In fact, the growth in our engineering and construction services has helped contribute to our firm’s economic impact and employment opportunities throughout Illinois.”

Not only is the IUBDC increasing business opportunities for diverse companies, but it’s also providing educational opportunities and forums to share best practices. In a joint effort with National Minority Supplier Development Council, the IUBDC entered into a partnership with the Kellogg Executive Program at Northwestern University to provide certified, established, expansion-oriented MBEs with the tools and skills needed to achieve and sustain accelerated growth.

“Thanks to a scholarship program from IUBDC, we were able to participate in a world-class training and development opportunity to engage in succession planning, capacity building acumen to enhance our long-term, value-added partnerships with multiple utility purchasing representatives,” said Edilberto Ortiz, president of E.C. Ortiz & Company, a certified MBE Asian male-owned business enterprise.

Since its formation three years ago, IUBDC has increased opportunities for minority-, woman- and veteran-owned enterprises to do business with the utility sector. That commitment continues, as the IUBDC has invested in developing new tools to help connect utilities to qualified diverse suppliers throughout Illinois. One such tool, expected to launch later this year, is an interactive GIS mapping program that will enable utilities to quickly locate qualified diverse suppliers for a wide range of equipment, technology and business support services.

For more information about the IUBDC, visit

Photo left to right: Richard J. Mark, chairman of the IUBDC board of directors, and chairman and president of Ameren Illinois; Edilberto Ortiz, president of E.C. Ortiz & Company and DeShana L. Forney, chair of the IUBDC Engagement Committee and senior director of Government & Community Relations for Peoples Gas & North Shore Gas, subsidiaries of WEC Energy Group.

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