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Small businesses big deal in Illinois

Press Release - Saturday, November 25, 2017

CHICAGO (Nov. 25, 2017) — With about 1.2 million of them employing roughly 2.4 million people, small businesses are a big deal in Illinois, Gov. Bruce Rauner said today while visiting the recently reopened El Nopal Bakery.

"The impact of small businesses on our economy can't be overstated," Rauner said. "About 90 percent of companies exporting goods in our state are small businesses. They generate billions of dollars in exports. Not only that, the owners of businesses like Little Village's El Nopal are our neighbors and friends; they form the backbone of communities everywhere, and deserve our support throughout the year."

El Nopal reopened in October after a two-year hiatus. The original owner's son retired in 2015, closing the iconic shop that had a 61-year heritage dating back to its 1954 origins on the near West side. The Little Village location was a second locale that debuted in the 1970s, after the original shop moved to Pilsen in 1960.

"It feels great having the governor here during Small Business Saturday," said Ozzie Ocegueda, among the new owners of El Nopal, which employs eight people. "Giving back to the community what they once had and loved — it just feels so good to bring it back and actually see all of the customers just enjoying something they [knew] for so many years in the past."

The bakery was among a couple of stops Rauner made this morning. He also shopped and toured The Quarry Event Center on 75th Street, where more than 30 vendors displayed their wares.

Small businesses — defined as everything from sole proprietorships to companies employing up to 499 people — employ 46 percent of Illinois' private workforce. Further, they comprise more than 98 percent of overall Illinois businesses, according to the 2017 Illinois Small Business Profile produced by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Sean McCarthy said small businesses are central not only to the state's economy but also to quality of life.

"From the local diner to the tech start-up, our lives are impacted daily by the work of entrepreneurs who are pursuing their dreams through small business," McCarthy said. "These talented Illinoisans deserve our support, not only on Small Business Saturday, but every day of the year.

Through its Small Business Development Centers, the DCEO offers support for entrepreneurs looking to start or enhance their endeavors. Visit and click "Entrepreneurs" to learn more.

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