In Brief

Chicago Fed Hosts Business Development Forum

Last Updated: 12/07/11

News Release

Chicago Fed Hosts Business Development Forum

CHICAGO- Representatives of roughly 50 minority- and women-owned businesses gathered November 30 at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (FRBC) to discuss the current economic landscape and how to grow their companies in the coming year.

The half-day conference was titled “New Strategies for a New Economy,” and more than 85 business professionals attended. They discussed the challenges of the new economy, the characteristics of scalable suppliers, and strategic alliances to grow a business. Also presented was an overview of national and regional economic conditions from an FRBC economist.

The event was co-sponsored by the FRBC, the Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council (Chicago MSDC), Chicago United, and the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC).

“Working closely with partners like Chicago United, Chicago MSDC and WBDC, we are committed to creating an inclusive environment that promotes diversity in procurement, with a focus on minority and women-owned businesses,” said FRBC Chief Operating Officer Gordon Werkema, who offered opening remarks.


The panel discussion included Hedy Ratner, WBDC co-president; Shelia Hill Morgan, president and CEO of the Chicago MSDC; Gloria Castillo, president of Chicago United; and Mark Hands, supplier diversity program manager for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.  Ralph Moore of RGMA & Associates facilitated the event.

The Chicago Fed has a long-standing commitment to strengthen the FRBC’s supplier diversity relationships in the business community as part of its broader strategy to promote socially responsible behavior. 

“As part of our corporate social responsibility, we see the opportunity to integrate our ongoing commitment in the areas of workforce diversity and inclusion, financial literacy, community development and volunteerism,” Werkema said. “We want to actively promote further collaborations between internal and external stakeholders.”

Hands added that this was not a one-time event.

“This inaugural session was designed to provide CEOs an opportunity to examine the changing business landscape and obtain insights that can augment their 2012 business plans,” he said. “We look forward to our next collaboration with Chicago United, the Chicago MSDC and the WBDC.”

For more information about the FRBC’s diversity or corporate responsibility programs, log on to