Jimmy Odom joins ChicagoNext after leaving state government post

Jimmy Odom, the tech entrepreneur who resigned from a state government position earlier this month, has taken a new job touching the public sector.


Jimmy Odom is pictured at the Intersect Illinois office earlier this year. (Kristen Norman / Blue Sky)


He's now director of inclusive entrepreneurship at ChicagoNext, the tech-focused arm of World Business Chicago, a public-private partnership that promotes economic development.


It's a new position that will have Odom leading the Blackstone Inclusive Entrepreneurship Challenge, aimed at increasing diversity among entrepreneurs.


Also Thursday, WBC announced the formation of a 13-member council to implement the three-year Blackstone pilot, which will support diverse entrepreneurs and scale startups among communities of color, women, veterans and immigrants. Six organizations will split up to $3.4 million over three years for their efforts.


Odom started Monday, a week after walking away from state-level efforts to grow entrepreneurship in minority communities. His new position is funded in part by the grant from the Blackstone Foundation, the charitable arm of the New York-based firm that owns the Willis Tower.


"Having dedicated resources to have direct impact and investments into the communities that have the highest need at this current moment was really exciting," Odom said. "It was difficult to imagine passing up on this opportunity."


ChicagoNext is chaired by Mark Tebbe. Earlier this month, Odom wrote a post on Medium.com announcing his resignation as acting assistant director for the Department of Central Management Services of the State of Illinois, saying the state "has a long history of lacking committed strategic investments into the needs of its minority constituents."


He expressed frustration with a budget impasse that left programs unfunded and urged minority constituents to hold all leadership accountable for a lack of resources that could spur business development and economic opportunities, which in turn could stem violence in some communities. 

Odom joined state government in September 2015 after selling his on-demand delivery startup, WeDeliver.  


Cheryl V. Jackson is a freelance writer.


Twitter @cherylvjackson

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