With the hope of reviving the once vibrant commercial district on Chicago’s far west side, activist Pastor Ira Acree launch an entrepreneur’s support group in the economically challenged Austin neighborhood on Saturday, May 24, 2014 at Greater St. John Bible Church located at 1256 N. Waller in the Austin Community.
Over 30 small business owners from within his church’s membership attended, getting successful business tips and nuggets from the legendary MacArthur Alexander of MacArthur’s Soul Food Restaurant.  Mr. MacArthur gave business owners tips on how to establish a successful business which included hardwork, competitive prices, promptness, a positive attitude, quality of service, and support those who support you.  This was surely a historic event in establishing and maintaining successful small businesses in our community. MacArthur’s is mentioned in President Obama’s book Audacity of Hope as the best place for turkey legs and stuffing.
“We are felt very fortunate to have Mr. Alexander share his rags to riches story and  give tips on how he built a successful business in the midst of an impoverished neighborhood,” said Pastor Acree. “Our hope is that through sharing of stories like MacArthur’s, entrepreneurs will be inspired to continue to build their businesses while simultaneously rebuilding the Westside. The support group plans to host a monthly prayer, conference calls, highlight a business of the month, provide quarterly training sessions, and provide support services for local businesses.
Acree urged the business owners present to consider joining Austin African American Business Networking Association (AABNA), an organization led by Malcolm Crawford. Acree also mentioned that has spoken to other clergy led groups from around Chicago about sharing his model of faith-based economic development with other churches across the city. “The church has a lot of influence and power, if we could ever wake up the sleeping giant.” Acree added.  Mr MacArthur refused to accept a speaker’s gift for his service and said ” I can’t accept anything from you. God’s been good to me. I’ve been blessed, it’s not luck. That’s why I’m always giving back.” He said.