Quinn levels the playing field for minority women business owners
WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Ill. - Good news if you are a woman and a minority business owner in Illinois as Governor Pat Quinn signed a new law that some say will level the playing field.
Up until Wednesday, a minority woman business owner would have to choose to be certified as either a woman or a minority; they could not register themselves as both, whereas a man could.
Gail Lannom owns and operates Priority Staffing Group in Marion.
She thinks back 25 years and sees the progress women have made in the business world.
"They would even walk in with an employer trying to work with them and they would not speak with them unless they had a man in the room," said Lannom.
But she says women who are also minorities have had an even more difficult time getting a business off the ground.
Proponents of the new law say it will increase the chances that minority women owned businesses can participate in state contracts, offer a more competitive bidding process in the state's marketplace and it will ultimately lower the cost of business for the entire state.
Joni Barwick of the Marion Chamber of Commerce says that there are several minority women owned businesses in the area, many of them in the healthcare industry.
"It really does open up the arena here in the state for a lot of minority and women owned businesses to be on a level playing field and have a greater chance of acquiring those contracts," said Barwick.
Her hope is that this bill encourages minority women to take the business risk they might not normally have taken knowing that the state now sees them equally.
This same change was recently made on the federal level.
Barwick believes this is the state's attempt to piggy-back on that idea.
She says this is something that should have been done long ago.