by Thelma Sardin
The new SSA (Special Service Area) #51 for Chatham was the topic of Tuesday’s February Chatham Business Association (CBA) meeting. The CBA invited business owners and community members to participate in the discussion. Guest speakers included Anita Wilson, SSA #42 program manager and Krisann Rehbein of the Chicago Architectural Foundation. Rehbein spoke at last month’s CBA meeting about the importance of having community tours and how they can bring commerce to Chatham. At Tuesday’s meeting, Rehbein updated the body announcing that several people had contacted her since the last meeting to identify structures in Chatham.
The purpose of a SSA is to promote community improvement by strengthening community businesses. Businesses are strengthened with security, beautification and marketing initiatives through an SSA program.
Karletta Kelly, assistant executive director of the CBA, informed that there are only eight SSA’s on the south side of Chicago out of 51 city wide. “That tells you other parts of the city are taking advantage of this very wonderful program, an opportunity to provide services for small businesses,” said Kelly.
Wilson said that the Chatham and South Shore communities mirror each other and that it is time for the city to recognize the south side. “SSA’s have been around for thirty years, they have only started popping up on the south side in the last three,” said Wilson.
Wilson admitted that SSA’s have a stigma. “We have to raise the dollars by a property tax, but you get so much more than that when you really look at it,” she said adding that commerce increases in the community because of the added safety and cleanliness the SSA provides.
Joseph Caldwell, CBA Vice Chair for Economic Development informed that the SSA is not affiliated with CBA operations.
“SSA is not a CBA subsidy. It is an entity within itself,” he said.
SSA #51 has five commissioners’ applicantswho have applied with the City of Chicago to oversee the program. The commissioners’ duties include regulating funding and insuring taxpayers get the most for their money. Kelly mentioned that training for the prospective commissioners will occur at the end of February.