by Thelma Sardin
The Chatham Business Association held its monthly meeting on Dec. 14. Guest speakers included Joseph Kowalenko, Founder & CEO of Zo-Link and Mike Krawchuk, Business Technology Consultant for Best Buy. A special presentation was given by Octavia Hooks, manager of community affairs at the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI). Hooks discussed MSI’s Black Creativity Program. The 39-year-old program immerses African American youth in science and technology through exhibits and activities. Through the program, the museum is, “…trying to get to the kids when they’re 8 years old, 9, 10 and explain to them that you can be in the field of science, technology and medicine and not feel intimidated by it.” Hooks explained that Black Creativity is an avenue to… “reach out to African American children. We get them in there and talk about current technology issues….for 2011-2012 we will be discussing energy.” She added a discussion about energy is beneficial to black youth because of the expanding job market in the field.
Following Hooks, Kowalenko discussed the function of his company Zo-Link, a technology company. Kowalenko emphasized the importance of innovation in a world centered on technology. “If the entrepreneur is not thinking in an innovative way, it will not help the company think in an innovative way,” Kowalenko said.
The final speaker, Krawchuk, discussed how Best Buy helps businesses use technology effectively. Krawchuk and Kowalenko will lend their expertise at CBA’s Business Innovation Forum coming up on Dec. 17 from 10am- 3pm. Admission is free and will be held at The CBA Community Center at Chatham, 806 E. 78th St.
by Lesley R. Chinn
As part of its mission to help small businesses on the South side sustain themselves, the Chatham Business Association (CBA) climbed onboard when Mayor Richard M. Daley announced a series of steps to help jumpstart Chicago’s economy and get people back to work despite tough economic times.
At a local North side coffee shop, Mayor Daley announced several initiatives on Tuesday aimed at helping small businesses. Some of the small business initiatives included revising the licensing process to allow business owners to choose between a twoyear or four-year license term. The licensing process will allow businessmen whose license fees exceed $1,000 to pay in installments instead in a lump sum and allow business owners to correct a code violation before having to pay a penalty. Another initiative involves reducing the number of city offices that a business owner must visit to obtain a business license and public way use permit.
“Small businesses make up 90 percent of all the businesses in Chicago. We have made a commitment to grow small businesses in every neighborhood, especially underserved neighborhoods where services and jobs are still needed,” Daley stated. “The small business sector is the backbone of our city’s economy, so it’s in the best interest of all the residents of Chicago when government encourages and assists small businesses.”
The city will also expand the amount of capital in the marketplace available to make it easier for qualified small businesses to get loans. Daley announced that the city has allocated $3.2 million in Skyway lease proceeds for a small business development fund to be administered by the City Treasurer ’s Office. Loans in the amount of $10,000 to $150,000 will be made available through community lenders. Some of the changes will require City Council approval.
Melinda Kelly, CBA executive director, applauded the Mayor’s plan to help small businesses obtain access to capital. “Banks are [either] not lending or the access is not easy. Even though we were in the process of getting contract opportunities, sometimes $5,000 was needed for mobilization money. And the other alternative to the bank or a credit union is going to a pay day loan store where they have a high ridiculous rate. So if we can’t get to the banks, then what are the other alternatives?”
Daley said these steps build upon the efforts already taken in recent months to support small businesses. Earlier this year, the City launched the “Small Business Solution Station” in City Hall where business professionals provide free legal advice and business and financial counseling from Tuesdays through Thursdays. The Mayor also vowed that the city would help small businesses increase access to technology through its second annual TechExpo in 2010.