West Side and Oak Park business owners, professionals, and community activists gathered on April 4, to attend the West Side Business Network Lunch Event hosted by Robinson Ribs in Oak Park. 

More than 50 participants celebrated the release of the 2014 West Side Community Guide, published by the Austin Weekly News. The guide provides information on local businesses, professional services, and community resources.

Louverta Hurt, committee chair of the West Side Women group, which meets the first Monday of the month, provided the gifts for giveaways, and worked closely with Helen Robinson of Robinson Ribs, 940 Madison, on the event. 

Some of the business represented included Austin Coming Together (ACT), Tanya Harris Photography, and Circle Family Health Care Network. Many attendees expressed their appreciation for The Austin Weekly News, the publisher of the West Side Guide and sponsor of the Friday lunch event.

Darnell Shield, ACT’s director of operations said, “Our relationship with Austin Weekly News has been phenomenal. AWN has been a huge advocate in supporting all of the changes and programs ACT wants to see in the community. 

We plan to continue to work with them and to have them support us.”

Shield said ACT has an upcoming three day Summer Youth employment event, April 16-18. The group plans to train 100 18 to 24 year olds for summer employment by providing them with job-readiness skills. 

Another organization that plans to maintain its good relationship with AWN is Circle Urban Ministries. Director of Development Lindsay Miller said, “Our association with the Austin Weekly News has been very beneficial in helping me to identify who are neighbors and constituents are. 

They have helped me identify the other businesses in the community, and I am really looking forward to our continued relationship.” 

Entrepreneur Martesz Jackson, inventor of the AC Clamp, made an enthusiastic presentation to the attendees. The AC Clamp is a security brace which prevents burglars from being able to break into a home by pushing in the air conditioning (AC) unit. Jackson’s inspiration came to him after an intruder entered his aunt’s home by pushing in a unit. 

“I started by conducting an Internet search for solutions but found only incidents of the occurrence,” Jackson said. “That’s when I went to work.” 

Jackson explained that he has a patent pending and a device prototype, with plans to have the unit on the market by late spring.

Dawn Ferencak, Austin Weekly News associate publisher and organizer of the event said, “I am thrill at the number of people who attended this event.” 

Alicia Plomin, AWN advertising coordinator who also helped plans the even, assisted Ferencak. Maggie Acker designed the West Side Business Network marketing materials and Ashley Lisenby provided digital skills to the network. 

Ferencak, who will serve as a moderator of an upcoming a National Women’s Diversity Conference featuring Donna Brazil, said it was truly a group effort, which made this event the huge success it was. 

CONTACT:  lragsdell@aol.com

Twitter: @Austinweeklychi