by Lesley R. Chinn
As the Chatham Business Association (CBA) gets ready to celebrate 37 years of community service at its upcoming gala fundraiser entitled, “Restore, Realize, and Live the Dream,” a retired history professor highlighted Black entrepreneurship at the organization’s regular monthly meeting and said CBA members stand on the success of other pioneer African- American business owners.
Dr. Christopher Reed, from Roosevelt University, touted past and present Blackowned businesses such as the Illinois Service Federal, Supreme Life Insurance Company, Seaway Bank, Binga Bank, Victory Life Insurance, as examples of how Chicago gained its reputation as a mecca for Black-owned businesses during the 19th and 20th centuries. Many of them, including Victory Life Insurance, Supreme Life, and the Binga Bank, were located in the Black metropolis area (known as Bronzeville) from 26th Street to 55th Street between Wentworth to Cottage Grove before businesses such as Seaway Bank and Independence Bank made their mark in Chatham.
Reed said the success in Chatham is an affirmation of the dreams that started in the Black Metropolis. “You are doing something that is part of a tradition,” Reed told CBA members. “Just as they succeeded until the Great Depression, you’re going to succeed as this recession is ending.”
With Black-owned businesses such as Seaway Bank and Illinois Service Federal Bank still standing strong, Reed said Chatham has the potential to thrive. “More and more Blacks can own their own businesses but they have to convince themselves of [those possibilities],” he stated.
At the CBA fundraiser held on September 18 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, the organization will honor Theresa “TJ” Hughes, owner of REO Movers; Spencer Leak, owner of Leak and Sons Funeral Home, and Charles Hudson, of Diamond Waste and Recycling for their outstanding service and longevity in the Chatham community. The fundraiser will begin with a reception at 6:30 p.m. followed by a dinner at 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $150 per person. For more information, call the CBA at (773) 994-5006.
In her analysis about entrepreneurship perceptions on mentoring relationships among Black male and female business owners, Barbara J. Andrews has found that minorities view mentoring as a contributing factor for success. Andrews, a doctoral candidate at the Chicago campus of Argosy University, is currently working on a study entitled, “A Midwestern Business Association Comparison of Black Male and Female Entrepreneurship Perceptions of Mentoring Relationships.”
When it comes to seeking assistance, Andrews has learned that Black men prefer to be mentored by other male entrepreneurs while women have mixed views on who they feel should mentor them. Andrews’is including the Chatham Business Association in her study and is using the group as an example of a Midwest urban organization that mentors Black entrepreneurs and youth.
The use of technology was addressed by Rosa Escareno, deputy director of the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, who explained how CBA members can establish a web presence, generate leads through e-marketing, talk to experts about using technology, and gain tools for a more efficient operation at the Chicago Tech Expo, held on October 1 at the UIC Forum, 725 W. Roosevelt from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Early registration is $35. The onsite cost is $50. For more information, visit: www.chicagotechexpo.net or call (312) 744-5430.