Who we are
Business Elevator is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on building strong, community-based entrepreneurial ecosystems. Founded in 2019 in Champaign-Urbana, our goal is to enhance economic opportunity for everyone in our community by increasing the share of diverse businesses and employment opportunities for disenfranchised, disadvantaged, and/or underrepresented individuals.
Meet The Team
President & CEO
Secretary & COO
Treasurer & CFO
What We Do
Simply put, we help build better businesses. What does this mean? It means helping aspiring entrepreneurs get access to the best information and mentorship, giving established small business owners the help they need to grow, and bringing together all the organizations in our community with similar goals in order to maximize the health and vitality of our entrepreneurial ecosystem.
As a startup, the resources and services we provide are constantly growing and evolving. Check out everything we currently offer here. And if there's something your business needs that we don't offer yet, don't hesitate to contact us. We're always ready to help!
Within Champaign-Urbana, we believe that a key pathway for improving our ecosystem is to increase diversity within the business community. We believe that, as in nature, diverse ecosystems are the strongest; they are more resilient to change, provide more opportunities for meaningful employment, and create the capacity to lift communities up out of cycles of poverty and oppression.
According to Mergent Intellect, out of over 15,000 registered businesses in Champaign-Urbana, only 100 are certified minority-owned—less than 1%. According to the 2010 US Census, Blacks alone made up more than 15% of the population, and estimates suggest these numbers have only gone up in the years since. In fact, the US Census Bureau estimates that non-Whites made up approximately 39% of the population of C-U in 2019.
It doesn't get much better when you look at income inequality. According to US Census data, the median income for Black households C-U is only 57% that of White households. For Latinx families, that number is only slightly higher—a mere 58.5%.
Disparities in income and low business ownership among minority are not unrelated; since the 1980s it has been well-documented that minority business owners and executives hire more diverse workers than their white counterparts. Without robust minority entrepreneurship, it follows that there will be significant gaps in wages, higher levels of unemployment, and greater economic distress in minority communities.
Minority-owned businesses support the vibrancy, vitality, and resiliency of our economic environment and our community as a whole. To support our work, consider making a donation today. Every dollar we receive is used to fund free programs and services for local entrepreneurs.