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Last Updated: 5/8/2017

Business Growth and Employment in Chicago's African American Neighborhoods


This symposium will highlight the ways in which investments and economic growth can be brought into Chicago’s south side neighborhoods. Sessions will focus on the strategies and resources needed to integrate neighborhood prosperity with regional development. The event marks the first anniversary of the Greater Chatham Initiative, and it is co-sponsored by the Community Development and Policy Studies division of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the Greater Chatham Initiative and World Business Chicago.

Registration by invitation only. Please contact CDPS Events for more information.

Thursday, 06/01/17
7:30 AM
Registration and continental breakfast
8:15 AM
Opening remarks by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Alicia Williams, Vice President, Community Development Officer and Director of Community Development and Policy Studies, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
8:20 AM
Opening remarks from Greater Chatham Initiative
Nedra Sims Fears, Executive Director, Greater Chatham Initiative
8:30 AM
Keynote lecture on Perceptions of Communities of Color


The goal of the symposium is to discuss and highlight ways in which investments and economic growth can be brought into Chicago’s black neighborhoods. The mass media with its significant power to shape popular ideas and attitudes is one of the most important mechanisms for maintaining or changing perceptions about individuals and communities of color. This session features a scholar on (the history of) media depiction of black communities, who will provide an overview of media narratives that affect the images of African American neighborhoods in Chicago; and insights on practices and initiatives that lead to changes in black communities for the better.


Jane Rhodes, Department Head, Professor of African American Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago
8:45 AM
Reflections on community change in south side neighborhoods


The Greater Chatham has historically been at the heart of Chicago’s African American middle- and working-class community. While the Chatham neighborhood of today continues to have enormous assets – a skilled workforce, thriving business and consumer services, quality housing and amenities – it is challenged by the loss of middle-income jobs, a lagging recovery in the neighborhood housing market, and changing neighborhood demographics. In this context, local experts will speak about community change and opportunity from social activist, ethnographic and financing perspectives.

Alden Loury, Director of Research and Evaluation, Metropolitan Planning Council
Theaster Gates, Director, Arts + Public Life at the University of Chicago; Executive Director, Rebuild Foundation
Natalie Moore, WBEZ-Radio Reporter and Author, The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation
David Doig, President, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives
10:00 AM
10:15 AM
Data on business growth and employment in Chicago communities
Maude Toussaint-Comeau, Senior Business Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Gretchen Kosarko, Vice President, RW Ventures, LLC
10:30 AM
Accelerating business growth and employment in minority neighborhoods


The business sector remains a viable and growing force in Greater Chatham, with an increasing number of business licenses granted to Chatham business owners, consistent with the rest of Chicago. This session features large and small employers who will highlight the opportunities, experiences and challenges of hiring workers and owning a business in Chatham and other African American neighborhoods. This session includes insights from one of the last black-owned local banks in the city of Chicago.

Karin Norington-Reaves, CEO, Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership
Bob Klamp, CEO, Illinois Service Federal Savings & Loan
Ted Stalnos, President, Calumet Area Industrial Commission
Alyssa Berman-Cutler, Director of Business and Workforce Development, Office of Civic Engagement at the University of Chicago
Mark Walker, Owner, Oooh Wee Tea Company
Jackie Dyess, President, Inner City Supply Co. Inc.
11:30 AM
Chatham Business Awards
GCI will recognize five Greater Chatham entities that embody the best place-based business, social enterprise and community enhancement practices.
Nedra Sims Fears, Executive Director, Greater Chatham Initiative
11:45 AM
Lunch and networking
12:15 PM
Keynote remarks on Greater Chatham Initiative
Congressman Bobby Rush, U.S. Representative, 1st Congressional District Illinois
12:30 PM
Challenging inequality, driving economic growth


The potential for black businesses in black communities is yet to be fully realized. Opportunities exist to build on the existing strengths of the region’s industry clusters, to integrate small- and medium-scale local businesses, including businesses in the Greater Chatham area, in a more inclusive manner. This panel features a moderated conversation with civic leaders about the assets and resources needed to accelerate employment, increase economic growth, and connect local communities in Chicago with the region in an information-age economy.

Rick Mattoon, Senior Economist and Economic Advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Terry  Mazany, President and CEO, Chicago Community Trust
Andrea Zopp, Deputy Mayor and Chicago Neighborhood Development Officer, City of Chicago
1:15 PM
Concluding remarks
Michael Sacks, Vice Chairman, World Business Chicago
Event Information
Event Contact
Community Development and Policy Studies

06/01/17  - 06/01/17
Registration Deadline
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
230 S LaSalle
Chicago, IL 60604
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Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, 230 South LaSalle Street, Chicago, Illinois 60604-1413, USA. Tel. (312) 322-5322

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