Alderwoman Emma Mitts and Alderman Michael Scott, Jr. recently hosted a budget meeting so that representatives from West Side businesses, clergy and nonprofit organizations could weigh in on the City’s 2017 Budget. The panel included Andrea Zopp, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development; Chief Barbara West with Chicago Police Department; Commissioner Lisa Butler with the Department of Family and Support Services; Chief Medical Officer Allison Arwady with the Chicago Department of Public Health and Mary Bonome, Deputy Commissioner for Planning and Development. North Lawndale’s own Vance Henry, Deputy Chief of Staff to the Mayor, was also in attendance.
Panelists highlighted community investments in businesses, public safety and youth. While residents were generally pleased that the City will be making more investments in local communities, participants raised concerns about the need for the investments to more directly impact local emerging businesses, as opposed to only focusing on luring large companies to locate businesses in under-served communities. Participants were also concerned about public safety issues, including greater police coverage in hot areas.
We were proud to see a number of NLCCC members in attendance, including Dr. Dennis Deer, Kevin Sutton, Brenda Palms Barber, Richard Jackson, Vincent Guider, Valerie F. Leonard, Richard Townsell and Jesse Green. NLCCC submitted a written request for the proposed Community Catalyst Fund to include representation from the West Side on its investment (governing) board, as well as its advisory committee. We also advocated that the Fund include North Lawndale as a targeted community and that investment policies be written in a manner that would also encourage investment for businesses from the community and hold businesess that receive funds accountable for hiring local residents. Other requests included CDBG funding for affordable housing and expansion of community-based mental health alternatives and for the City to replicate the 606 Bike Trail in North Lawndale.
We will be meeting with representatives from the City to discuss our proposal in further detail in upcoming days. We will be amending our proposal to include youth mentoring and employment. If we need to expand our proposal in any other way to focus on issues you deem important, please contact Valerie F. Leonard at firstname.lastname@example.org; Dennis Deer at email@example.com or Rodney Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.