belt 032321SPRINGFIELD – In a major step toward dismantling systemic inequality, fighting discrimination in the workplace and promoting growth in minority communities, legislation sponsored by State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Centreville) that eliminates barriers to economic access, equity and opportunity was signed into law Tuesday.

“Since this nation’s inception, there’s been a massive disparity in access to economic opportunity in America. This imbalance affects all aspects of life, especially housing and access to capital,” Belt said. “If the federal government won’t take the lead, Illinois will. It’s time our state reaches its full potential, giving Middle America a beacon to strive toward.”

In order to eliminate long-standing economic obstacles to Illinoisans of color, the reform package includes a series of measures addressing the third pillar of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ anti-racism agenda—economic access, equity and opportunity—which is made up of nine parts:

  • Banking and investment
  • Economic mobility
  • Small business and entrepreneurship
  • Procurement and the Business Enterprise Program
  • Industry-specific equity
  • Environmental equity
  • Housing, land use and gentrification
  • Pay equity and workers’ rights
  • Capital investments

To help address inequities in state procurement practices, the package of legislation would also create the Commission on Equity and Inclusion, which would be charged with developing a procurement scoring system to give minority contractors a boost when competing for procurement opportunities with state agencies and universities. The commission will also help provide support for diversity hiring and training initiatives at state agencies.

“Accepting nothing less than true equity is the only way we can ensure the success of minority workers and businesses,” Belt said. “A diverse business community makes our economic foundation deeper, broader and stronger. When we break down barriers to economic access and opportunity, Illinois benefits.”