On Saturday, May 2 at the Chez Roue Banquet Hall, 5200 W. Chicago Ave., Austin Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Camille Lilly moderated a breakfast forum on federal stimulus funding, an event featuring many black elected officials from the West Side.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss stimulus funding opportunities to be shared at all governmental levels in the areas of modernizing infrastructure, science and technology, training/education, economic development and helping Americans hurt by the economic slowdown.

Welcoming businesses, community organizations and church organizations, Ald. Emma Mitts (37th), stated, “There is enough to go around. … With the economic stimulus package there has been a lot of myths about what you can do, what you can’t do.

“Here on the West Side of Chicago, we have been working in a different way. We found that if we come together we can make things happen. The purpose of the meeting is so you can obtain some knowledge, and the more knowledge we put into our community the more we are going to be able to help them. The more you know, the more powerful you become; knowledge is truly power.

“We’re moving with the president’s mission. … We are responsible for our own destiny; it’s in our hands what we make of it. How can we complain if we’re not doing what we need to do? And that is working together to make it better for this world that we live in.”

Dan Cantrell of U.S. Congressman Danny Davis’ office explained how the stimulus money will be spent, enumerating such areas as jobs training, educating children, putting people to work and skills training.

“We don’t administer these funds,” Cantrell said. “The organizations, the counties, the cities, the villages – they administer these funds. We do from time to time get called on to do reviews, and that is about the only role we will be able to play.

“We basically legislate and try to find resources for people in the community. There are a lot of resources out here, and if we put our heads together we can get a lot done with the resources that are there.”

Mayor’s office representative Patrick J. Harney, Mayor Daley’s deputy chief of staff, presented a slide presentation explaining the American Recovery Reinvestment Act 2010 (ARRA).

The accompanying chart indicates how much federal funding is to be allocated to Chicago. For more detailed information, visit www.cityofchicago.org/recovery.

A community discussion followed panelist presentations.