NONPROFIT PROVIDES SUPPORT AND RESOURCES FOR SOUTHLAND BUSINESS COMMUNITY
8/15/2018, noon | Updated on 8/15/2018, noon
Nonprofit Provides Support and Resources For Southland Business Community
BY KATHERINE NEWMAN
In Chicago’s Southland region Chamber 57, a non-profit organization, has taken the initiative to promote and support the growth and development of local businesses in Matteson, Olympia Fields, Park Forest, University Park, and Richton Park. The organization works to keep the business community informed, engaged, and inspired through economic development, job training, and business development.
Chamber 57 provides programming for business development, training, and marketing as well as a mix of business seminars, workshops, and programs that are designed to attract new clients, maintain existing clients, recruit and retain new employees, and reduce operational expenses.
“We just did five state of the businesses where we worked with each Village to have them highlight what their economic agenda was, what the agenda was for the actual community, and then what the business owners experience was in the community. Then we talked with the residents about what their experience was like. We are in the process of creating white papers where we can highlight all of the economic development opportunities in these communities and all the relationships and connections and the best practices,” said Percy Scott, executive director of Chamber 57.
Through the work that Chamber 57 is doing, they are hoping to show these communities and their businesses that success, or failure, does not depend solely on the Village president or the Village administration.
"That was the major thing that we wanted to get businesses in our community to realize,” said Scott. “It’s a community effort and that’s the message we’ve been putting out. If you don’t shop in your own backyard then how can you expect businesses to survive? At the same time, we have to have a strategy because in today’s climate, Amazon is putting a lot of people out of business.”
Scott said he looks at Matteson as “the staple of the south suburbs” “I grew up in Robbins and I used to look at the Village of Matteson as like the shining star on top of the hill. I would come to Lincoln Mall and just from the people and the atmosphere it was my childhood utopia,” said Scott.
After seeing the decline and eventually the demolition of Lincoln Mall along with the closure of several big box stores like Sam’s Club, Target, and Toys R Us, Scott decided to get involved in the Matteson Business Association. It was here that he realized outside companies were looking at the region as a whole and not the individual communities so Chamber 57 was created to showcase the purchasing power of these five communities.
“That was the purpose of us creating the Chamber 57 because we realized we needed to speak from a regional voice and not just a community voice and we needed someone to highlight these communities that may be predominately African American but the household income is still rival if not greater than it’s surrounding partner communities,” said Scott.