Chicago Kilwins owner named small businessperson of the year

Chicago Kilwins owner named small businessperson of the year

Jackie Jackson has repeatedly helped people understand what it means to be an entrepreneur in Chicago, from crime to the pandemic to taxes. But being able to create jobs keeps her going and is why she was named businessperson of the year.

The Small Business Administration has named Chicago’s Jackie Jackson as Illinois’ Small Business Person of the Year.

Jackson owns multiple Kilwin’s Chocolate Shops in Chicago and a location in Geneva. She accepted the award at her newest location in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood.

Expansion has been a long process for Jackson, whose stores suffered from a shooting back in 2021 and looting during riots in 2020. But for Jackson, creating jobs in her community is all the motivation she needs.

“I’m often asked, ‘Why do I continue to open businesses in such crazy times?’ When starting a business, you must have a purpose – a ‘why.’ Running a business can be stressful at times, but I do it because I absolutely love offering job opportunities,” she said back in 2022.

Jackson’s venture started with 10 employees and has grown to more than 75. She’s hoping to open a new location in River North. She also owns a Fatburger franchise and plans to open a second one in June.

“Providing career opportunities and teaching my team members entrepreneurial skills is priceless,” she said.

Read more about Jackie Jackson from Illinois Policy Institute archives:

On challenges of running a Chicago business.

On finding opportunity after COVID-19.

On her start, COVID-19, looting and hope.

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