Despite growth, Chicago’s Black businesses face systemic challenges but are making some progress.


Black-owned businesses in Illinois saw revenue losses during the pandemic, with 66% reporting losses in a 2023 survey. However, 33% saw no change or revenue increases

Nationally, the number of Black-owned employer firms grew 14.3% from 2020 to 2021, the largest percentage increase since 2017. Revenues grew 30% and payroll grew 27% in 2021

However, Black-owned businesses still lag significantly behind population parity. It would take another 682,000 Black-owned employer firms nationally for representation to match the Black population percentage .


The top industries for Black-owned businesses in Illinois are professional services, food/restaurants, education/social services, retail, personal services, and arts/entertainment.

30.8% of Black-owned firms in Illinois have been operating for 10+ years. 37.8% have been operating for 3-9 years

Black-owned businesses in Illinois tend to be smaller. 60.2% are non-employer firms, while 35.3% have 1-4 employees


Key challenges reported by Black business owners in Illinois include access to capital, finding customers, licensing costs, lack of support services, and unfair treatment

Nationally, 96.3% of Black owned firms are sole proprietorships, indicating barriers to growth. Black firms rely less on traditional bank financing

Trends compiled and analyzed from the following sources:Illinois Black Business Alliance report, WBEZ article, Crain’s Chicago article, Annual business survey