The Austin Weekly News is committed to helping Chicago’s Austin neighborhood businesses grow and expand their reach.  The AWN West Side Business Development Group created the West Side Bridge, West Side Women, and West Side Men networking groups.  The newest group is the Westside Manufacturing Network.  These groups meet regularly to foster networking opportunities, community involvement, and sharing resources the West Side has to offer.  For example, the 2nd Annual West Side Business Network Holiday Party, was held on December 4, 2014.  Guests enjoyed the chance to make connections while listening to live entertainment, visiting the vendors, and entering to win dozens of raffle prizes.  One guest said, “I thought the event was an amazing opportunity for community members to be exposed to the extraordinary products and services local businesses have to offer.” – Michelle Mbekeani-Wiley, Civil Rights Division, Equip for Equality Member, Oak Park Community Relations Commission.  Loretta Ragsdell, freelance writer for the Austin Weekly News, interviewed holiday party guests by asking:  “Tell me your name, your business, and what you think about the event.” Here are their responses:

Guest #1:  My name is Richard Green.  I am with Garfield Park Behavioral Hospital.  And you know what, this is a great event.  For the neighborhood people to come in and be able to network with one another, to provide each other with opportunities to meet and greet, and not just that, but just to collaborate with services for the neighborhood – It’s a great thing.

Guest #2:  My name is Chuck Levy.  I’m with Garfield Park Hospital.  We’re a behavior healthcare hospital.  We specialize in child and adolescence.  At Garfield Park hospital we specialize with the ages 3 to 17 with a number of behaviors from oppositional defiance to major depression. Oh, I love this event.  I come every year.  We also have a table displayed over here.  And I’m a big supporter of the Austin Weekly.  And I’ll continue to do that.  I love you, I love Dawn.  I’ve been very supportive.

Guest #3:  My name is Len Kirby.  I am CEO of Garfield Park Behavioral Hospital.  It’s a very nice social event.  Good to see people meeting a lot of important people in the community. 

Guest #4:  My name is Layfette Ford.  I work with Chicago Public Schools, Department of Children and Family Engagement.  Oh, I love the event.  I think it represents a lot about what’s happening in Austin and in Oak Park, and the West Side in general.

See more pictures from the 2nd Annual West Side Business Network Holiday Party.