CHICAGO — To celebrate the grand opening of Brown Sugar Bakery’s manufacturing facility, Stephanie Hart, the bakery’s owner, was joined by Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton and other local and state leaders for the ribbon cutting of the 10,000-sq.-ft. bakery.
“One of the most important things I get to do as governor is help entrepreneurs start new businesses, and help small businesses become big ones. That’s the best way to create jobs and grow the economy,” Pritzker said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the Brown Sugar Bakery team as they continue to uplift the community, making a difference in so many people’s lives while bringing smiles to the faces of people everywhere.”
Enabling a large-scale production on Chicago’s South Side, the bakery will create numerous jobs opportunities for the local community.
“Today marks an exciting milestone for Stephanie Hart and Black women everywhere, making her the only Black woman-owned chocolate manufacturer in the United States,” Stratton said. “This is Black HERStory in action. I’m so excited for Brown Sugar Bakery‘s success as they take this next step in their journey.”
The bakery received $500,000 in grant funding from the state’s Minority-Owned Business Capital and Infrastructure Program in 2020 for the expansion as well as awarded with a grant from the Back to Business Restaurants program. This allowed Brown Sugar to create jobs, increase revenues and revitalize properties in underserved communities.
“The State of Illinois’ commitment to supporting businesses owned by people of color and other underrepresented groups goes beyond grant funding programs — DCEO provides a number of resources, opportunities and support to help small businesses thrive in a diverse business ecosystem,” said Kristin Richards, opportunity director of the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity.