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The Commercial Corridor Revitalization Coalition

Thriving commercial corridors support local communities across Chicago and Cook County.  Prior to the pandemic, however, many corridors struggled.  As Chicago emerges from the pandemic and local communities confront a new economic landscape, a strong coalition of stakeholders is needed to advocate for policies and initiatives which will revitalize, empower and connect commercial corridors and neighborhoods.

Words from our Partners

For me, being a member of BSM and a part of this coalition, it hits everything that we’re searching for in our organization. Economic development is one of the key problems in our underserved communities. We all ride past blocks of vacant storefronts that could be useful in our communities if the right business was there. If only we could get our communities and businesses to not be afraid to be in the community, and I think that’s the barrier that we face. How do we get the businesses to want to come into the communities, to be there after everything they said and especially with the thing that Elliot spoke about? One side of town gets a bad rep and that means it’s the whole city when it’s not. It’s literally pocketed events, and if we can overcome that, we could really stretch our economic development and bring viable businesses into our communities.

 - Danielle Petty, Founder & CEO, L.T. Consultants, LLC, Secretary, BSM

For me, it’s important because I believe strongly the best way to stop a bullet is a job, and so I believe very whole-heartedly that small businesses, particularly black businesses, hire black boys. I used to go to the Valvoline on 115 and Halsted because it was a black-owned oil change place, and every time I went, there were 10 black boys working really hard to change oils. I went earlier last year, not a black boy in sight, and I asked. I said, “Did you all change management? What happened?” They had sold it, and so now it’s this big franchise, people who run it, and they didn’t hire one person from the community. The fastest way to stop a bullet is a job, and so if we want these businesses to be in our communities and to hire our boys from the community, we have to make sure that they are able to be in our community. The liquor store that comes into our community isn’t hiring our boys. They shouldn’t; they shouldn’t be there, so that’s why. That’s why it’s important for me. I also am a landlord. I have a rental property on Southshore area, and up and down 79th street, there’s nothing but either liquor stores or abandoned buildings, and then there are a bunch of boys standing on the corner with nothing to do, but cause mischief, so that is why it is important to me to be involved in this project.

-Sydnie Monegan, Sgt At Arms, BSM

I’m from the community. I understand the issues. I’ve survived a lot of obstacles. I’m blessed to be a success story, and I owe to the community to give back and do whatever I can to make it better, so that’s why I wanted to be part of this.

-Michael Bempah, President, BSM

For me, being a part of BSM 1) is definitely an honor and connection back to Chicago because I just recently moved back officially last year, and so I had lived in DC; I’ve lived in New York, and I’ve seen this shift of gentrification, aka urban renewal aka suburbanization, happen, and personally, I come from the West Side. I come from the West Side and I come from seeing it all, being a part of it, and the reality that the opportunities that exist are endless when we create them. And so I actually wrote down, for me personally, it’s like personally and professionally, but personally it’s my civic duty for humans, especially the little humans, the young folks to create the opportunity. And the vacant opportunities too. I’ve always envisioned opening up a coffee shop in a community center because that is going back to the job opportunities, and I’ve seen that happen. I’ve even worked with young people in the work that I’ve done and seeing them open up their own coffee shops and providing opportunities, and this was in DC, providing opportunities to the homeless. But this give back and this way of changing the narrative or shifting the narrative to support the folks who are actually there. And finally I’m a big believer of the three words: opportunity, exposure and access, and I’m a believer in that because that’s my foundation, and the way in which I was exposed and creating opportunities because of the access. Now the access didn’t just come to me. I had to go get it, and it was due to my curiosity that made that happen. In order to leave my spot where I grew up, come back and now seeing this opportunity as a way to give back.

-Shantae Edwards, VP, BSM

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