My last column mentioned the 4 Es: Economics, Employment, Education and Ex-Offenders as the most important issues for each of us individuals. If we solve the 4-Es throughout our community, 95 percent of the problems we have can be solved. My last column addressed the issue of Economics. Now let’s talk about Employment.
From creating your own job by opening up a business (self-Employment), to working a job that isn’t paying you what you need (under-Employment) to those that “just want a job” (unEmployment), Employment issues are at the forefront of all the issues facing the black community.
Let’s say the Economic piece I wrote about has come true. We’ve opened up our own bank. That bank will need tellers, personal bankers, security personal, office workers, etc. So the $11 million in saving ($100 x 110,000 residents in Austin) will generate at least 1 job per million. We’ll then have 11 jobs that pay a living wage to the employees.
The employees who got the jobs were those in the under-Employment and unEmployment categories. The bank has also lent 10 people in the community $100,000, and they have each opened a business. If you had money invested in the bank, would you support the businesses that the bank funded? I know I would. And the best part is that the owners of those businesses would be accountable to you as both a customer of the business and of the bank.
Now let’s get one thing clear. This is not the “hook up” type of accountability. There are no special deals or discounts just because you have money in the bank. But what you will have is fair trade.
The businesses the bank funded would be viable businesses for Austin. So tanning salons for the most part wouldn’t be a top priority. Myself, I would like to have a fruit market to buy fresh greens. Next to that market, I’d like to have someone who sells real smoked meat?”the kind of smoked meat (ham hocks, sweetmeat, turkey legs and wings) that are really smoked and not that stuff currently sold that tastes as if it were sprayed with smoke flavoring as opposed to being permeated with smoke. You don’t need a lot of real smoked meat to flavor a pot of greens, string beans or black-eyed peas. Now that can be some real “good eating.”
I’d also like a bakery where my sweet tooth for cinnamon buns, caramel cake and sweet potato pie could be fulfilled. How about a business that manufactures those “garbage can grills” that so many of us have? Why do you have to search for someone who makes them? Why can’t you go to a store and custom order one or buy one directly off the shelf? How about a custom-built one with a side table and storage for charcoal and utensils?
If certain franchises can make money off of selling bagels, can I get someone who can make and sell biscuits? On a cold winter morning, I would pay royally for a couple of hot biscuits smothered in butter and topped off with some jam or jelly. Or what about biscuits and gravy, a sausage biscuit or several biscuits with Alaga/maple syrup? At lunch time, would you buy soup/stew and a biscuit or biscuit-topped chicken pot pie?
How many employees would a restaurant like that need? Well if Jimmy’s Hot Dog at Pulaski and Grand and Johnnie’s Italian Beef in Elmwood Park each can have six or more employees working at all times, then cannot our restaurants do the same thing? And neither one of those locations is bigger than your average two-car garage!
How about the bank funding some business that will do window replacements? How many furnaces do we have in Austin that will need someone who does heating and air-conditioning? Why don’t we fund our local trade people who do good work? I had a black guy put a new motor in my furnace over eight years ago, and it’s still running. I had another black guy install new springs on my garage overhead door and haven’t had a problem since. A black guy installed my glass block windows and that was over 15 years ago.
I want black tradespeople to be able to buy the merchandise, install it, and then I pay. Or if I give them 1/3 down, they are able to make it to the next payment without going under. Many a black business hasn’t been able to bid on doing major work because they lack access to capital and not because they weren’t skilled enough to do the work.
There is a major difference in businesses when one has a line of credit to tide them through the rough waters, and the other is just up a creek without a paddle. (I told you last time that money and water were cousins!) Working in the trades is a situation where money doesn’t flow in and out as quickly as it does with other businesses. So we need to have a safety net for them to cover the periods until the money comes in.
How about that bank lending money so we can have a black-owned gas station in Austin?”a gas station that’s open 24/7? How about a grocery store at West End and Cicero in South Austin? The Buddy Bear that was once located there has been a vacant lot for over 15 years. How many jobs would that store create?
While writing this column, the news came out about 25,000 people applying for 350 jobs at the new Wal-Mart in Evergreen Park. The majority of those who applied were black and from Chicago. So to continue to do nothing is to end up with nothing.
How about black people boycotting CTA and beginning to use Jitney cabs? Who amongst us is shocked that regular cab companies and the CTA always find a reason to not service the black communities? We can create our own economic employment environment. All it takes is each of us pooling a little to generate a lot.
Austin is a major thoroughfare for many as they enter, exit or just drive through Chicago. How much money could a business make if it could make $1 in profit off of every car that went up and down Cicero Ave? If thousands of cars pass up and down that street every hour, the businesses would make thousands. How many people would be employed by a business that was making thousands of dollars an hour?
If 95 percent of our community were truly educated, would 95 percent of our problems disappear? Education?”that will be my next column.