By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD — A foundation created by Nicor Gas has awarded a combined $200,000 to two local nonprofits to aid in their work assisting minority- and women-owned businesses.
“At NICI, we are committed to advancing equity by supporting sustainable growth of businesses among women and marginalized groups,” said Tovah McCord, executive director of Northern Illinois Community Initiatives. “We are proud to support Think Big and YWCA Northwestern Illinois and their missions to confront racial inequality, create opportunities and drive mentorship to transform lives and drive economic development.”
Think Big, which is creating a small business development center at 1311 N. Main St. with help from the city of Rockford, will use the funding to create a business school cohort designed to help female entrepreneurs overcome the gender gap in training and mentorship, as well as secure financial support.
This is the second year the nonprofit has received a grant from NICI.
“We are grateful for the generous gift from NICI,” Sheila Hill, co-founder of Think Big, said in a news release. “As we receive commitments like this one, we are helping women entrepreneurs and minority groups establish and grow their businesses and drive economic growth across the Rockford area.”
The grant money will support the YWCA’s YW Tech Lab, which provides training, credential opportunities and internships in information technology, a field where women and minorities are often underrepresented.
“We are thankful for the support of NICI and look forward to working together to address workforce development and IT skill gaps in this portion of the state,”Kris Machajewski, CEO of YWCA Northwestern Illinois, said in a news release. “Together, we can ensure that women and minority groups have the technical skills they need to support the economic growth currently taking place in Rockford.”