Innovation DuPage Launches Construction Industry Owner-to-CEO Program

By: Angela Mennecke

The lobby of Innovation DuPage highlighting ID's logo and business partners

In partnership with the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association (HACIA), Innovation DuPage (ID) launched the Construction Industry Owner-to-CEO Business Accelerator, a program designed to support Hispanic, Black, female and veteran-owned businesses. 

ID’s 12-week program guides participants as they scale their businesses, capitalizing on the knowledge of industry experts serving as instructors. The course modules are tailored for the construction industry covering insurance and bonding, the contract bid process, human resources, emerging technology and marketing strategies. The project management units, construction finance module and legal considerations units are led by industry leaders Power Construction and Mortenson, Glen Ellyn Bank & Trust, a division of Wintrust Bank, and Robins Platt and ICE Miller, respectively.

Launched two years ago, the Owner-to-CEO program was structured to accelerate the success of small business owners seeking to fine-tune and scale their operations. With 45 program graduates, the accelerator program caught the attention of community leaders including those at HACIA. 

“Because of our shared commitment to serving underrepresented business owners, we worked with HACIA’s leadership to optimize outcomes for minority- and women-owned business enterprises and disadvantaged business enterprises,” said Sam Guerrero, ID Community Engagement Manager.

HACIA Executive Director Jorge Perez said the partnership with ID allows the association to support the building of small construction-related businesses in and around the western suburbs. 

“For more than 40 years, HACIA has been an advocate for the equitable participation of minority- and women-owned businesses in the construction industry,” Perez said. “Creating a customized curriculum led by industry experts is a high-value way to extend HACIA’s mission and to help grow the pool of qualified minority- and women-owned firms who will shape the future of the construction industry.” 

Lilly Aguilar, program participant and construction cleaning business owner, said she applied for the program to learn how to expand revenues. 

"I don't know of anywhere else in this region that could replicate the kind of experience found at Innovation DuPage,” she said. “The accelerator program provides me with key skills that will further strengthen the foundation of my business, allowing me to grow financially. I want to be able to use and apply the resources and techniques offered by this program to improve my skills as a woman and minority business owner.”

Travis Linderman, ID Managing Director, said one of the program’s goals is for business owners to stay connected long after the program is over.

“The program's format provides a competitive advantage for entrepreneurs seeking to strengthen their access to financial and legal expertise,” he said. “The network that is developed between participants serves as a stabilizing support system that lasts long after the accelerator’s conclusion. Graduates have the potential to transform the long-term health of their companies by working together on projects to secure new clients and contracts.”

Co-founded by College of DuPage, Choose DuPage and the Village of Glen Ellyn, Innovation DuPage empowers, inspires and informs entrepreneurs by focusing on educational, governmental and private sector resources and expertise in support of job creation and economic growth. Learn more at InnovationDuPage.org. If your association is interested in collaborating with ID, please contact Guerrero at IDguerrero@innovationdupage.org or call (630) 942-3340.