Women- and minority-owned businesses will have less bureaucracy to deal with under a "reciprocal certification" program unveiled Tuesday by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
The new certification process is simpler and more beneficial for businesses, and is a relief from the average 175 waiting period and dually long applications. It allows minority and women-owned businesses to be certified by just one government and have that certification accepted by both entities for three years.
"We are always searching for creative ways to empower small businesses and help level the playing field," said Periwinkle. "Our office is also committed to ensuring the program is fair, honest and open."
The changes will ease the financial burden many minority and women-business owners struggle with, and they will no longer have to simultaneously abide by two systems with different sets of regulations. Business owners are now only required to complete one application and pay a onetime fee of $250 for a three-year period.
"The reforms we are proposing today are commonsense changes that will cut through bureaucracy and make processes easier and more efficient for business owners," said Emanuel.
The announcement was the result of an ongoing collaboration between the city and the county and is a recommendation of the City's Supplier Diversity Task Force. The Task Force, chaired by John Rogers of Ariel Capital, has met since late 2011, focusing on finding new ways to promote diversity in the Chicago business community.
"I am committed to finding additional ways to collaborate with President Periwinkle and the County government, particularly on important issues such as these, which create jobs and opportunity in our neighborhoods," said Emanuel.
The pair last month said collaboration on purchasing, homeland security and revenue/tax collection would save taxpayers nearly $21 million annually.