ROCKFORD (WREX) — The Rockford IceHogs are teaming up with Think Big yet again. The IceHogs Community Fund donated $24,500 to the Rockford-based organization that supports minority-owned businesses. Think Big is distributing that money in the form of mini-grants to 11 local businesses that have gone through the Think Big School of Business.
"There's not a lot of funds that are available right now," said Tisha Hannah, owner of Ambiance, a restaurant that just opened a little more than a month ago. "So having the Think Big program to be able to provide those resources is really beneficial. I'm so excited for everyone, including myself."
Dr. Sheila Hill and Duntai Mathews started Think Big with a mission to sustain minority-and women-owned businesses in the Rockford community.
"They constantly support you," said Hazel Williams, owner of a Nu-You Salon. "They constantly push you. They're a phone call away. To be able to have people that's been in the business industry for over 20 years and be able to glean from them, and not have to deal with the hurdles and barriers They help you to navigate through that. This is great. This is exciting."
Having people who care about the local minority-owned business community is important for the entrepreneurs who are trying to get their businesses off the ground.
"You don't see it everywhere," said Jarmeise McNeal, owner of Jascenta Candles. "I am very grateful that Think Big has given us the opportunity to expand ourselves and stretch ourselves so I think it's very good to have this in the community."
And bringing together so many Black business owners to celebrate the grants makes for a special day.
"It's a beautiful thing to watch all of Rockford's entrepreneurs come together," said Charyl Frye, owner of DLaJe' Beauty. "Especially, those of color, like myself. It's going to be beneficial, not just today, but moving forward. I think it's going to be fabulous."
In 2022, the IceHogs Community Fund awarded a contribution in the form of a $50,000 grant to Think Big to get its business school up and running so they could help more entrepreneurs.