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Five Forward 20/20
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Chicago United introduced Five Forward 20/20, the expansion of its Five Forward Initiative™, designed to strengthen the local economy and enhance job creation by supporting a stronger Chicagoland minority business enterprise (MBE) community in September of 2015. The advocacy organization is aiming to increase participation of Chicago-based corporations and local minority suppliers.

Click here to download the Five Forward 20/20 Vision Brochure.

Click here to view press release, “Chicago United Unveils Plans to Fuel Job Creation through Five Forward Initiative.”


Chicago Minority Business Enterprises Grow and Compete on a National Scale 

The Chicago United Five Forward Initiative engages the corporate community in our common goal of strengthening the local economy and enhancing job creation by supporting a stronger Chicagoland minority business enterprise (MBE) community.


The Commitment

Chicago area corporations commit to doing business with five local minority firms over five years. As local MBEs grow and enhance their position to compete for corporate contracts outside of Five Forward, the corporate community benefits from a more competitive pool of diverse businesses.


Supporting MBE Success

The Five Forward program is strengthened by including stakeholder groups with common goals. Collaboration between corporate and MBE communities, Chicago area advocacy organizations, nonprofits, public sector agencies, and other technical assistance agencies will allow MBEs to perform to their maximum potential. Coordinated access to technical support, human resources services, and capital ensure that local minority businesses will grow to better meet the needs of Chicago’s corporate community with innovation and expanded markets.


The Aspiration

Chicago will boast the largest number of MBEs of scale in the country.



Governor Rauner Expresses Support for Five Forward


Watch Illinois Governor Rauner's video message of support for Five Forward.


Business Drivers for Advancing Scale in the Chicago Minority Business Community are Compelling


Large Minority Firms are Job Creators and Hire Minority Employees  Research confirms what most observers already know: minority owned firms have a far greater propensity to hire from minority communities.2 The expansion of locally owned and operated minority firms will add to the tax base, local sales, and support of local social institutions and community-based organizations.


Minority Firms are Exporters

Minority owned firms are twice as likely to export and six times more likely to conduct business in a language other than English, according to The U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency. They also found that minority owned exporting firms are larger than non-exporting minority owned counterparts and create more jobs. World Business Chicago has cited exports as a critical driver to the regional economy. Strengthening the minority business community has the potential to accelerate regional exports.


Five Forward 20/20 Launch Video


The Chicago United Five Forward Initiative is produced in part through funding provided by: 

The Surdna Foundation seeks to foster sustainable communities in the United States – communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures.  Learn more at


Program support by: 

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