SPRINGFIELD – Underserved business owners could soon have more support through a new Office of Economic Equity and Empowerment under a measure passed by State Senator Celina Villanueva.

“Creating the Office of Economic Equity and Empowerment ensures that businesses owned by minorities, women, veterans and those with disabilities are protected,” said Villanueva (D-Chicago). “With this office, established resources and programs remain readily available to these underrepresented businesses.”

Senate Bill 859 would create the Office of Economic Equity and Empowerment within the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, further protecting equity initiatives. While DCEO has the Office of Minority Economic Empowerment, it is not written into law. Villanueva’s measure would preserve equity initiatives through the formal establishment of the office and continue its current efforts supporting underserved business owners.

“In prioritizing the protection of equitable access to resources and programs, we provide opportunities for historically marginalized communities,” said Villanueva. “This proactive approach is essential for progress in equity and inclusion.”

Senate Bill 859 passed the Senate Friday and heads to the House for further consideration.