Small business and entrepreneurship summit a success

We thank the Austin Weekly for so prominently featuring our Fifth Annual Small Business and Entrepreneurship Summit. Building successful and sustainable businesses is the backbone of a thriving Austin community, and this year’s summit was perhaps our best event. Business organizations, government agencies, and lending institutions came together to provide prospective and current Austin community business owners with tools to create or expand their dream.

We’d like to thank our chief co-sponsor, Alderman Isaac Carothers (29th). Additionally, we’d like to thank Camille Lilly and the team at the Austin Chamber of Commerce, and Malcolm Crawford and the team at the Austin African-American Business Networking Association for their help in arranging the 2007 summit. Both Camille and Malcolm have been with us since our first summit in 2003. They continue to put forth a remarkable effort on behalf of the community. Malcolm Crawford also deserves additional thanks for all of his hard work to make certain the newly opened Sankofa Cultural Arts and Business Center was ready for the summit.

We’d also like to thank our mistress of ceremonies, Kimberly Richardson, for her efforts to make certain that the event moved smoothly. All of our participants, from lending institutions to the state of Illinois and city of Chicago, who anchored the various group “breakout” sessions, deserve thanks. Your advice was deeply appreciated, and your expertise valuable.

Finally, our state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias provided a wonderful keynote address. His dedication to promoting opportunities for small business owners throughout Illinois is noteworthy. As a banking expert, Treasurer Giannoulias provided great information, while providing attendees with information on programs from his office.

If you participated in the 2007 Business and Entrepreneurship Summit, then we hope you learned something, enjoyed the day, and found resources to create and expand your business. If you missed it, don’t worry. We’re already planning for the 2008 summit. Should you need to reach us, State Rep. Graham can reached at 708/445-9520 or It’s our honor to serve you.

Deborah Graham, Don Harmon
State Representative, 78th District, State Senator, 39th District

Residents came together for garden

Myself, along with Tracy Brown, community organizer for CAPS, Mary Perry, president of the Austin Green Team, Dorothy White, president of the LeClaire Block club and a host of neighborhood volunteers all joined together the weekend of September 29, in creating a new community garden for the 400 block of North LeClaire.

It is a true sign of the times to see the young, as well as the old, all coming together to make a difference. Creating a garden has long since been a dream of Mrs. Dorothy White, and to see so many actively involved and committed to the effort was the highlight of the day. A shared vision of restoration in the Austin Community is the common thread between these groups. These individuals continue to partner together as a team in organizing for change on the West Side of Chicago.

Vera Watson
President for CORE (Community Organization Restoring the Environment)

Give St. Mel student another chance

After reading the article by Mr. Felton about the expulsion of the Providence St. Mel Student I was very disturbed by what kind of message this prestigious school is sending[Student says expulsion for Facebook photo is unfair, Oct. 4]. If the facts as presented are the case, then my question is what kind of life are you dooming this young black man to? As a place where Christian values are taught there appears to be no Christian tolerance. Will this young man be able to hold his head up and continue in his quest for a better life, or will he see this as the way the world treats young black men? Will he become a part of the problem rather than a part of the solution?

In these times when we are desperately attempting to turn our youth away from their hopeless attitudes [and] away from thinking nobody really cares, this situation sends a message that I don’t believe we should send. I would hope that Dr. Adams and Principal DiBella would take another look and give this student another chance to redeem himself. I would hope that they look into their Christian hearts and ask themselves: does the punishment fit the crime?

I do not ask that they change their policies, but I do ask that, given the fact that they have been a positive force in the life of this student, they consider what happens to students who have been expelled from their school. I pray and hope that this case be looked at again. Again, if the facts as stated are what happened, I believe this child is one who can and has learned from this experience. He should be given a probationary chance in the name of Christian tolerance.

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