In brief, describe the mission of your company?
The mission of the South East Chicago Commission (SECC) is to facilitate and support economic development within the Southeast lakefront communities of Hyde Park, Kenwood, Oakland, Washington Park and Woodlawn to foster collaboration and coordination among businesses, organizations and institutions to promote the creation of jobs, investment and economic vitality.
What services do you currently offer entrepreneurs to grow and scale their businesses?
Since 1999, the SECC has been a Neighborhood Business Development Center (NBDC) that works in partnership with local businesses and stakeholders to enhance business districts and the overall quality of life within the SECC footprint. The SECC’s Business Attraction & Growth Initiative focuses on recruiting efforts to attract strong businesses to our communities, providing training assistance and consultation for entrepreneurs, connecting businesses to banking institutions and capital resources, implementing consumer engagement tactics to stimulate sales, promoting job opportunities within the business districts, collaborating on co-op advertising and marketing.
On October 12, the SECC hosted our inaugural regional Economic Development Symposium “Fueling Our Economic Evolution” that aligned thinking and action to strengthen the business districts in Chicago’s Southeast lakefront neighborhoods. The SECC Symposium convened over 200 entrepreneurs, business executives, property owners, investors, financial institutions, policy leaders and practitioners as a diverse, cross-sector community committed to economic vitality. The Keynote Conversation featured John W. Rogers, Jr., President and CEO of Ariel Investments, and Valerie Jarrett, author and former senior advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama. Rogers and Jarrett deliberated on the theme “Fueling Our Economic Evolution,” with a focus on capital investments on the South Side, minority business development, and our course of action for economic vitality.
The SECC is the local non-profit, Service Provider, for Special Service Area (SSA) #61. SSA Commissioners oversee and recommend the annual services, budget and Service Provider Agency to the City. SSA #61 is a local tax district that funds expanded services and programs through a localized property tax levy within a specific footprint. The SSA provides enhanced services and programs specific to the area. Downtown Hyde Park Chicago includes only the areas contributing to the commercial tax levy. The business corridor is highlighted in red on the map of Special Service Area #61. SSA-funded projects typically include but are not limited to public way maintenance and beautification; district marketing and advertising; business retention/attraction, special events and promotional activities; auto and bike transit; security; facade improvements; and other commercial and economic development initiatives.
Why is it important for residents to support businesses in their communities during Small Business Saturday?
Shopping locally at small businesses in our neighborhoods helps maintain the diversity of stores on the mid-south side, builds strong neighborhoods, creates jobs, provides funds for more City services through sales tax, and promotes community development. It is important for residents to support the businesses in their community so that the community becomes and remains sustainable. Studies have shown that when residents are invested in their community those areas tend to thrive. An economically viable community generates prosperity and entrepreneurship.
What are some helpful ways for residents to promote Small Business Saturday in their communities?
Residents can promote Small Business Saturday through social media, blogs, community newsletters and newspapers, word of mouth and patronizing the businesses on a regular basis, not just on Small Business Saturday, but throughout the year.
Can you provide specific example(s) of ways members of your organization take advantage of Small Business Saturday?
The SECC traditionally plans kick-off events in each of the communities we represent. We encourage businesses to decorate and offer special promotions for their customers. In some cases, we have encouraged businesses to partner with one another to drive customers to each other’s business. We offer an incentive to consumers, to encourage them to shop at the small businesses, to participate in our Small Business Saturday and Shop Local Campaign to submit spending data for a chance to win a grand prize in our program outreach (last year the winner received a Microsoft Surface Pro). Last year we had 53 businesses in 7 Southside neighborhoods participate in the campaign! We partner with other organizations, like Quad Communities Development Corporation (QCDC) and the Washington Park Chamber of Commerce, to reach as many businesses as we can. It’s really a collective effort between the businesses, economic development partners and the community shopper!
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