Black Women’s Expo (BWe) founder Merry Green and her team held on to hope that the country’s largest and longest-running exposition targeting African American women would take place on the rescheduled dates this August. An email from McCormick Place reps late last week dashed those hopes. The correspondence indicated that out of an abundance of caution and in order to counteract the spread of COVID-19, the State of Illinois has cancelled all events at the venue through the month of August.
“When I read the message, to say I was devastated merely scratches the surface,” said Green. “After 25 years of bringing thousands of people together to celebrate Black women, it seems surreal that it’s not going to happen this year. Of course, the health and safety of attendees, exhibitors, sponsors, our team and all who are affiliated with the Expo comes first. I guess I just needed a minute to take it all in.”
Green did share that she is excited that dates for next year’s Expo are on the books for April 9-11, 2021. Mayor Lori Lightfoot also offered her support in seeing the Black Women’s Expo make a huge comeback next year.
“For over 25 years the Black Women’s Expo has empowered tens of thousands of Chicago’s entrepreneurs to transform their ideas into businesses that support our communities and drive our local economy. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis has forced us to cancel this year’s event, preventing its invaluable networking and educational opportunities, as well as hurting our many small businesses who had been counting on revenue from the Expo itself.
While we appreciate everyone’s efforts to keep our communities safe, we also know how much our businesses are hurting—especially our small businesses of color. That’s why we have made aggressive investments to support our neighborhood businesses, as well as engage in active dialogues with industry leaders on ways to resume operations as quickly and safely as possible. As hard as things are now, we will get through this stronger and more resilient that we’ve ever been, and I look forward to joining everyone when we open our doors to the Black Women’s Expo once again.” said Lightfoot.
Meanwhile, Green and the BWe team are busy communicating next steps to its hundreds of exhibitors and sponsors. An allowance is being made for paid exhibitors to automatically be registered as a part of next year’s exposition, provided that the above dates fit their schedule and they have a continued interest in participation. For those who decide to cancel their participation, a refund will be granted minus payment processing fees.
When the April dates for this year’s Expo were cancelled, the BWe hosted a series of virtual events featuring panelists and other experts who were originally scheduled to appear in person. Green stated that virtual events will continue for the balance of the year to maintain engagement of supporters while celebrating the businesses, brands, sponsors and organizations affiliated with the Expo.
“We presented some amazing virtual programming throughout the month of April from diverse panel discussions and fitness workouts to the Clark Sisters Movie watch party and Twitter chat,” said Green. “We plan to do more of this throughout the year while promoting the brands of our exhibitors as well.
On behalf of me and my entire team, we are thankful for everyone’s patience and support as we navigate these unprecedented times. May you and those you love, be well.”
For more information about the Black Women’s Expo sponsorship and vendor opportunities, call 312-454-6100 or visit www.BWeNext.com. To book interviews with Merry Green, contact C WHITT PR at 219-712-3182 or Chelsea@CWhitt.biz.