From the Desk of:
Executive Vice President for
Neighborhood and Strategic Initiatives
World Business Chicago
Q&A with Rosa Escareno City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection
Q. What does the City of Chicago Business Affairs and Consumer Protection do?
A. The City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) supports businesses, protects consumers and defends workers. BACP supports the business community by offering workshops, expos and by partnering with 70 neighborhood business development centers. BACP also licenses over 60,000 businesses, regulates public passenger vehicles and chauffeurs, issues public way permits, handles consumer complaints and investigates businesses to ensure compliance with consumer and labor laws. BACP is the one-stop-shop for businesses and our goal is to ensure a fair and vibrant marketplace for both businesses and consumers.
Q. Why Chicago? Can you expand on why Chicago is a great city to support small businesses and entrepreneurs?
A. Chicago offers entrepreneurs a unique blend of both resources and community. We are a city that thrives on diversity and collaboration - any entrepreneur can find their community in Chicago, from technology to hospitality, and everything in between. Chicago has been recognized for our business-friendly practices that support the city’s economic growth. Entrepreneurs have access to all types of resources, many of which are free, such as BACP’s workshops and expos or assistance from chambers of commerce. Chicago is proud to welcome all types of businesses so that each resident and consumer can enjoy a part of the city.
Q. BACP provides bi-weekly and monthly informative sessions to help in Chicago. Can share some additional information on these sessions?
A. BACP has offered free business education workshops for just under a decade. With the ever-evolving marketplace, it is essential for business owners to have access to all of the information they need to succeed. The workshops are designed to offer entrepreneurs information on all topics they will need to run their business, from basic business planning, to social media marketing, to information on how to stay compliant with labor laws. The workshops are presented at city hall on Wednesday and Friday by industry experts, government agencies, and partner organizations. With over 3,000 attendees a year, BACP’s workshops are a great resource for entrepreneurs to gain useful knowledge that they can apply to their business. Past attendees have shared the workshops helped them to open their business, grow their social media presence, and manage their business finances better. The workshops are free and open to the public and the workshop calendar is available at www.chicago.gov/businessworkshops.
Q. How can business owners and entrepreneurs get in touch with you for more information?
A. The best place to start is at www.chicago.gov/BACP. We are also very active on social media, so entrepreneurs can search ChicagoBACP on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. In addition, I want to recommend our podcast, Smart Business Chicago, which is available on SoundCloud. This is an extension of our outreach programs and allows entrepreneurs to listen to advice and tips on the go.
Q&A with Rachel Ivy of Communities Empowered Through Construction
Q. Tell us about Communities Empowered Through Construction (CEC)?
A. We are an award-winning talent management and diversity consulting firm that caters to the construction industry.
Q. What is the mission of CEC?
A. Our mission is to be a bridge that connects Chicago’s communities to the construction industry. We offer direction, training, and professional development to both minority subcontractors and community residents, in an effort to cultivate professional relationships within the construction industry.
Q. As March is Women’s History Month, can you share some advice for young women with an interest in historically male-dominated professions, such as construction?
A. In this industry, I’ve found you have to let your work speak for you. For example, I was invited to a meeting by a developer I had worked with in the past. His general contractor was dismissive toward every suggestion I made. The developer finally asked the general contractor to have a seat because he missed the mark. Then the developer ran down my resume and asked me to take it from there and I’m proud to share I did just that!
You have to hone your craft, study it, and strive to be the best at it. I am constantly trying to think outside of the box, develop solutions to problems, and figure out how I can add value to my clients.
Q. In your opinion, what are some of the immediate and long-term challenges that women face when opening businesses?
A. Immediate challenges are typically things like operating capital, limited capacity, and inexperience. Long-term challenges can be product/service viability, threats of new competitors, and changes in the industry climate.
Q. What other upcoming workshops or events do you have planned for Q2 in 2020? How can others get involved?
A. CEC has a host of creative events, and we're working on some wonderful developments in the coming quarter. We are partnering with some prominent general contractors, including Skender, Walsh, and Clayco.
Residents can get involved by going to our website, www.communities4construction.com, and completing our interest application form. Once you complete the interest form, you will get the invitation to attend our Intake Process.
Q. What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs and small business owners just starting out?
A. Utilize as many free resources as possible to get your paperwork in order. Lots of organizations provide free business counseling. They will help you with your articles of incorporation, your city and state certifications, and connect you to other resources.
I also recommend developing an elevator pitch, and don’t be afraid to talk about your business.
Additionally, set both long-term and short-term goals. And most importantly, write them down. I read a book entitled, “Write it Down, Make it Happen,” which motivated me to chase bigger dreams. Writing down my dreams and aspirations helps keep everything in focus, and gives me something to work towards every day. It also acts as a written prayer that opens up the universe to work in your favor. And who doesn’t want God’s favor?
Lastly, I recommend finding a mentor and space for positive energy. Most importantly, define what “success” looks like for you. Society’s version of success isn't always in line with an entrepreneurial spirit. When I got started, success was being able to pick up my little ones from school every day and still be financially secure. I wasn’t making as much money as some of my peers at the time, but I felt blessed and successful.
CHIBIZHUB IN THE COMMUNITY
On Wednesday, February 26, the ChiBizHub team attended the
L.E.G.A.C.Y Awards Gala!
ChiBizHub and World Business Chicago were proud sponsors of the annual L.E.G.A.C.Y Awards Gala, celebrating the impact of Black entrepreneurs on African American communities and highlighting the importance of Leadership, Education, Growth, Advocacy, Community and Youth. Click here for event video and photos.
Our team helps grow entrepreneurship in Chicago every day.
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