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  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.

Cook County leads country in black owned businesses

Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Chicago Defender
by Temple Hemphill

Cook County, Illinois tops nation's list of counties with the largest numbers of black owned businesses, according to figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The new report --Survey of Business Owners: Black-Owned Firms: 2002-state that† revenues generated by the nation's 1.2 million black-owned businesses rose 25 percent between 1997 and 2002, to nearly $89 billion. The number of these firms grew by 45 percent in the same five-year period.

"It's encouraging to see not just the number but the sales and receipts of black-owned businesses are growing at such a robust rate, confirming that these firms are among the fastest growing segments of our economy," said Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon.

Cook County, with almost 55 ,000 black-owned businesses, accounted for 80 percent of all black-owned firms in Illinois.

"It's exciting to see those kinds of figures in Cook County," James Parker, President and CEO of Chicago web-based black advertising business, , told the Defender.

New York City had more black-owned firms than any other city in the country with a little more than 98,000 businesses. Chicago came in second with 30, 000 followed by Los Angeles (almost 26,000).

And while he's encouraged by the latest figures released, Parker reiterated the need for growth in, "access to black-owned businesses and better customer service." "So much more revenue can be generated if more black consumers knew 'where' the black businesses were," he said.

Growth, also is important to third-generation business owner Spencer Leaks, Sr. He is the Chief Executive Officer of Leak & Sons Funeral Home, 7838 S. Cottage Grove Ave. While excited about the figures cited in the report, he believes black business owners should look at the big picture and develop methods to generate continual business growth and the next generation of black entrepreneurs.

"My concern is that we're able to lead the country in sustaining businesses in the second and third generations," Spencer told the Defender. His father, A.R. Leak Sr., founded the business in 1933.

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