AAR Corp.

Aerospace CEO Creates $500,000 Venture Capital Fund for Minority Small Businesses

CHICAGO, November 21, 2013 – This Saturday, four minority small business owners will find out whether they have been selected to receive a minimum capital investment of $20,000 and a coveted slot in A.R.I.S.E. 2.0, a business accelerator program that connects minority small business owners with capital, mentors and a board of trusted advisors to help grow their enterprises and create jobs.

Thanks to a $500,000 venture capital investment fund created exclusively for A.R.I.S.E. 2.0 by AAR Chairman and CEO David P. Storch, graduates of the A.R.I.S.E. Entrepreneurship Program run by Salem Baptist Church of Chicago will be eligible to compete to enter A.R.I.S.E. 2.0 for the next 10 years.

The first A.R.I.S.E. 2.0 class will be announced this Saturday at the A.R.I.S.E. Business Expo and Career Fair at the House of Hope, 752 E. 114th St. The expo runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the winners will be introduced following the keynote address at 10:30 a.m. by broadcast journalist Roland Martin, host of TV One’s “News One Now” program.

Storch delivered the keynote address at the A.R.I.S.E. Business Expo last year. He was impressed by the number of high-potential businesses and reached out to A.R.I.S.E. and A.R.I.S.E. 2.0 founder and Executive Director Jamell Meeks to discuss investment opportunities.

“Great things happen in communities when entrepreneurs have an opportunity to grow and prosper,” said Storch. “Promising business ventures like the ones I saw at the A.R.I.S.E. expo need capital to kick-start their enterprises. Ideally, in addition to providing capital, I will be able to help these entrepreneurs think through their go to market strategies and help them reach a broader marketplace with their products and services. Small businesses create jobs, and helping them reach the next level of business success will lead to even more economic vitality.”

More than 1,100 business owners have graduated from the A.R.I.S.E. Entrepreneurship Program since it launched in 2004. Only A.R.I.S.E. graduates are eligible for A.R.I.S.E. 2.0, and more than 90 applied for the four-month program, which begins in January. Staff from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business’ Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Social Enterprise Initiative, and private investor Tony Wilkins worked with Meeks and Storch’s son, Michael, Product Manager, Airbus 320 at AAR, to set the selection criteria, vet the candidates and choose the winners.

“Bringing together community, church and the business world is the perfect storm,” said Meeks, wife of Rev. James Meeks, pastor at Salem. “A.R.I.S.E. 2.0 gets them to the next phase, which is capital. To have the business expertise, mentors and the funding will increase their faith to keep moving forward. Those are the kinds of things that have been lacking in the African American community to help sustain businesses through those first critical five years.”

A.R.I.S.E. 2.0 targets businesses that are poised to improve the economic health of the community; generate a return on investment to help sustain the venture capital fund; and serve as role models, mentors and benefactors to subsequent A.R.I.S.E. graduates and the community at large.

“We were thrilled to help bring this initiative together. Part of our mission is to foster venture creation, and we are eager to help business owners within the community by connecting them with experienced entrepreneurs and investors who know their industry and can provide informative counsel based on their own successful track records,” said Robert Gertner, Joel F. Gemunder professor of strategy and finance, deputy dean, and co-faculty director of the Social Enterprise Initiative.

AAR, based in Wood Dale, Illinois, is a global aerospace and defense contractor that employs more than 6,000 people in 17 countries. Storch became AAR’s second CEO in 1996. He has served on the board of the Chicago Urban League, a civil rights advocacy and economic empowerment organization, and currently serves on the board of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., among others. His vision and intuition for turning industry adversity into opportunity earned him the Ernst & Young 2012 Midwest Entrepreneur of the Year award in the Master Entrepreneur Category.

For more information on AAR visit www.aarcorp.com. For news about A.R.I.S.E. and A.R.I.S.E. 2.0, go to the Salem Baptist Church Web site at www.sbcoc.org.