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The Importance of Youth Investment

CEO of Gray Matter, Britney Robbins shares her experience with ChiBizHub

In brief, describe the mission of your company.

The Gray Matter Experience (TGME) is a nonprofit and entrepreneurial experience program for high school students. Our mission is to expose youth to entrepreneurship and provide them with access to the tools and resources necessary to build businesses that impact their communities. We believe that by allowing students to serve on the front lines of community growth and ownership, it will increase their self-worth and strengthen ties to the communities in which they live. We provide coaching, capital, curriculum, connections, and a community in which to level the playing field for teens to enter the entrepreneurial space.

Why Chicago?  Can you expand on why Chicago is a great city to support small businesses?

Chicago is an amazing city full of so many resources and change makers. The culture and history are rich, the people are motivated and we are consistently innovating and charting new paths for development, connectivity, technology and social good. There's a pulse and a passion in this city, unlike I've ever experienced. It is also a great time to start a business in Chicago as every day, new opportunities and resources become available for small business owners.

You provide expert guidance and technical assistance to small and medium-sized businesses. Why do you think your support in this area helps businesses to thrive?

It's fairly easy to start a business and gain your initial run of customers, but once the business begins to grow, you're no longer able to support the company's growth with little to no staff, and you need to start getting creative on how to keep the business afloat - that's the hard part. The services that we provide, help both students and adults not only start businesses but grow them. While there are several opportunities to start businesses and find the support needed, the growth phase is one that could use some additional infrastructure and supports - this is what we aim to provide.

Why are small businesses important to local communities on multiple levels?

Small businesses are the backbone of our country. They help to spur economic growth both on a macro and micro level. They create infrastructure for communities, provide jobs and encourage innovation and creativity. Money spent at a local business, generates 3.5X more wealth for the local economy. Additionally, small businesses generate 54% of US sales and employ 56.8 million Americans. These are a few of the reasons small businesses are a large factor in economic growth and a major tool of financial freedom and building generational wealth for communities of color.

How has ChiBizHub helped to grow your footprint among business owners and entrepreneurs?

ChiBizHub has been a great ally and support. From publicizing our events, to helping to find mentors for our student-run companies and even serving as judges for our pitch competition - their support has been invaluable. The work the organization is doing is imperative to our city and we are happy to have their support.


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