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.
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.
Agreement to obtain more than 50 percent Black participation reached
by Lesley R. Chinn
By this summer, for numerous senior citizens who are looking for affordable housing that provides independent living or supportive service accommodations, the Montclare Seniors Building will become the place to be in the 8th Ward.
After the 3.3-acre site is completed, the building will serve as an independent and a supportive living facility. Affordable rents for the 102- unit facility will range from $168 to $725 per month. Montclare will be located at 78th and Avalon. The senior facility will include amenities such as a library, a business center, an exercise center and a medical room. The building will be similar in appearance to a facility previously built on the Northside located at 6640 W. Belden.
Eighth Ward Ald. Michelle Harris solicited the assistance of the Chatham Business Association (CBA) to ensure that Black participation needs were met. The project is currently in the first of three phases of construction. It will not be completed until this summer. Right now, contracting bids are still open for the next two phases. The overall cost of the entire project is $60 million including $22 million for the first phase. These costs also include the $16 million for the construction of the first phase aspect of the project and $48 million for the total construction, according to Philip Mappa, managing director for the MR Properties, L.L.C.
The CBA renegotiated contracts on the construction project in previous meetings that were issued before its involvement in October 2008. Before the group’s involvement, CBA Chairman William Garth and publisher of the Citizen Newspapers, said there was a lack of Black participation. After continuous negotiations with the CBA and the Citizen Newspapers, an agreement to ensure more than 50 percent of Black community participation was reached, according to an announcement Garth made at a special CBA meeting regarding the Montclare project on Monday at the Quentis Bernard Garth Foundation Building, 806 E. 78th St. The foundation is also home to the Citizen Newspaper, a corporation which prides itself on serving as the eyes and ears of the community. Mappa praised efforts of Alderman Harris and the CBA to ensure local participation. His development company is also working with Crane Construction, the general contractor for the construction project. Mappa said that having local participation makes the contracting process a lot easier.
“Relative to contractors, it’s very difficult to get the experience that they need if they don’t get the small jobs first,” Mappa stated. “From the developers’ standpoint, we direct the contractors.
“If we don’t have access to those groups such as this one in the beginning, it becomes very difficult,” Mappa continued. “Once the city, state and our lenders make all those requirements, it’s hard to backtrack.” The second phase will bring additional contracting opportunities, which is still under negotiation at this time. “We need you to let us know which contractors can do the job before we get all the financing in place,” Mappa told the CBA.
Attendees asked questions about whether or not this is a 100-percent union labor construction project and if assistance would be provided to non-union workers.
Jeff Crane, Crane’s president, said the site is a labor union project and will provide whatever assistance they can to non-union members. Meanwhile, CBA executive director Melinda Kelly said the group would provide assistance through its workshops in partnership with the developers and construction firm. These workshops will focus on issues such as business development, finance, computer training, general liability, compensation insurance and bonding.
“This is a million dollar project on some of the bids. It’s going to take some financing. We know we are not done yet, but we are definitely prepared to sit down one-on-one to get our minority contractors ready to do business,” Kelly stated, while telling Mappa and Crane about experts who are also members of CBA that can help point them in the right direction.
CBA Vice-Chairman Joe Caldwell said after the contracts are issued, services will be needed. “If you’re not in construction, don’t sell yourself out and think that you can’t get involved,” he stated. “If you want to be part of this, come to us and let us know what your needs are.”
For information about employment opportunities, call the CBA Small Business Development Inc., at (773) 994-5006.
by Lesley R. Chinn
Although an old saying, service with a smile still rings true and will always have the effect of retaining customers, Sheri Watts, CEO of Watts Connection Inc., told a group of entrepreneurs looking to receive tips on improving operations and customer image.
Watts, who was a guest speaker at the workshop presented by Chatham Business Association (CBA) and AT&T, spent 30 years at Indiana Bell, which later became AT&T before forming her own businessconsulting company. The workshop was held at Illinois Service Federal Bank on Thursday.