Press Releases

HIRE360 hosts "Paving A Path to the Future" loan pool event to provide funds to help women and minority owned businesses grow and scale

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, IL Senate President Don Harmon and industry leaders highlighted the importance of access to capital for small women- and minority-owned businesses in construction

CHICAGO—HIRE360 today hosted “Paving a Path to the Future,” a loan pool event to raise funds that will help small, women- and minority-owned businesses grow and scale within the construction and development industry. The event was held on June 22 at IBEW Local 134, and featured remarks from Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, IL Senate President Don Harmon and industry leaders on the importance of access to affordable capital for businesses working to thrive in an industry in which they are dramatically underrepresented.

Since its inception, HIRE360 has worked to alleviate obstacles to accessing affordable capital, one of the most challenging issues facing emerging construction businesses. The funds raised at the Paving a Path event will assist women and minority business owners, who are too often passed over in their efforts to acquire capital, the ability to expand their businesses, hire more employees and, in turn, compete for larger projects.

“Chicago has a wealth of skilled, capable and knowledgeable women- and minority-owned businesses in the development and construction industry, but the challenges of accessing affordable capital act as a roadblock to their growth,” said Jay Rowell, Executive Director of HIRE360. “HIRE360 is committed to developing the next generation of builders and making Chicago’s building industry stronger and more equitable from the ground up.”

This was the second event raising funds to scale up diverse contractors. The first, in 2019, raised more than $800,000 to back loans that have helped dozens of contractors grow. One of those success stories is Adrian Mobley, founder and CEO of Air & Wellness Safety Training. In 2014, her first year in business, Mobley earned just $5,000 in revenue. In 2021, Mobley’s business generated over $3 million in revenue.

“I started my business with consulting and training services, and HIRE360 has allowed me to expand into other service areas, like fencing and caulking, and to grow the business financially,” said Mobley. “Through HIRE360 I was able to get approved for a loan, get connected with mentors and even receive back-office assistance with accounting.”

“HIRE360 is a critically important effort to create true inclusion in the construction industry, which means supporting the small businesses that struggle to access affordable capital,” said Don Biernacki, Executive Vice President of Construction at Related Midwest and Board Chair of HIRE360. “This initiative is a way to support the next generation of women and minority entrepreneurs and craftspeople that Chicago needs.”

Four individuals received awards for their work contributing to the diversification of the construction industry. The Paving a Path to the Future award recipients and their respective awards include:

Leadership Award – Ralph Affrunti, President, Chicago & Cook County Building Trades Council

Public Policy Award – Shon Harris, Owner, LiveWire Construction

Elected Official Award – Illinois Senate President Don Harmon (D)

Construction Advocate Award – Deborah Whitaker, Director of Business Development, HIRE360 Chicago

Over $100 billion in mega public and private construction projects will break ground in Chicago over the next 15 years. Through its partnership with developers, general contractors and trade unions, HIRE360 is working to ensure that typically underrepresented groups in the construction and development industry will have equal access to contracts and opportunities.

For more information on HIRE360, please visit