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Case Study: Making the Women's Business Development Center's Voice Louder

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

The Challenge: Position the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) and its team as leading advocates for women and other diverse business owners through interviews, award applications, contributed articles, panel participation, and podcasts.

The Results: In over five years of working with WBDC, we have earned a total of 4.4 billion in aggregate readership. More importantly, we changed the tone of the coverage and positioned the WBDC as critical resource and advocate across their nine-state region.

We established a partnership with American City Business Journals and secured a biweekly column authored by WBDC leaders on, which has run consistently for over three years. In addition, we identified contributed content opportunities with USA Today and trade publications, including Women’s Enterprise, Diversity Professional, and Minority Business Entrepreneur. We are currently launching the WBDC’s first multi-state voting initiative, which will include virtual events and a podcast series that will position the WBDC as advocates for economic self-sufficiency, civil engagement, and diverse representation in government.

During the recent 2020 presidential election, Hawthorne also helped the Women’s Business Development Center team develop the framework for a podcast series that secured high-profile politically-engaged guests and moderators. In addition to developing campaign messaging, we were involved in targeting appropriate elected officials and media moderators to participate in the podcast, such as U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, City Colleges of Chicago Chancellor Juan Salgado, and WVON President Melody Spann Cooper. Ultimately, the podcast positioned the WBDC as advocates for economic self-sufficiency, civil engagement, and diverse representation in government.

Earned Media:

"The change means giving up some of the standard tools lenders use to limit risk, but should help level the playing field for entrepreneurs in under served neighborhoods, especially on Chicago’s South and West sides, said Brad McConnell, the organization’s CEO."

"Un prestamista comunitario sin fines de lucro está adoptando un nuevo enfoque para los préstamos para microempresas en Chicago: ya no considerará las calificaciones crediticias ni las garantías para decidir si un solicitante debe obtener un préstamo."

"The Comcast RISE Investment Fund is providing $5 million in grants to hundreds of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC)-owned small businesses in five cities nationwide, including $1 million in Chicago and Cook County, Comcast announced."

"Over 700 women are starting businesses every day, so yes, there is this uptick in interest because people now know that they have to be their own boss in order to provide for their families," Brown said."


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