News - Joliet and Will County

African-American chamber group holds kick-off event in Joliet

Joliet water tower

The newly formed African American Business Association will hold a kickoff event Aug. 24. The organization is a subgroup of the Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

The association has a 15-member board headed by Chairman Cornel Darden, an entrepreneur who owns Casanova Information Services and other businesses, and Vice Chairman Michael Clark, president of the NAACP chapter in Joliet.

The kickoff event, which originally was scheduled for July but postponed to Aug. 24, will be an opportunity to begin developing membership for the group, said Mary Jaworski, president of the Joliet chamber. Jaworski said people are interested in the African American Business Association..

“A lot of people are talking about it and asking about it,” she said.

The kickoff event will be from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Jacob Henry Victorian Ballroom, 15 S. Richards St.

There is no charge to attend. The event includes complimentary hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar.

Top goals of the group are to foster economic development, develop entrepreneurs, strengthen workplace skills and offer networking opportunities, chamber vice president Mike Paone said.

“They want to see the creation of more African-American businesses,” Paone said.

He said the group also is interested in helping young people develop skills for the job market.

Paone said the African American Business Association is similar in purpose to Alianza De Negocios, the chamber subgroup for Hispanic businesspeople. The chamber has two other subgroups: the Council for Working Women and Joliet Area Young Professionals.

For information, call the chamber at 815-727-5371, or visit the website at

Bob Okon

Bob Okon

Bob Okon covers local government for The Herald-News