The Austin Chamber of Commerce will be expanding into West Garfield Park, according to Amara Enyia, its executive director. Enyia, who made the announcement at the chamber’s first annual legislative breakfast, held at Loretto Hospital on Feb. 26, said the expansion is part of a larger push to make its presence felt on the greater West Side.
“We’ve taken it upon ourselves to really fill a need [in] W. Garfield Park, in particular,” Enyia said during the breakfast.
Enyia noted that, in addition to hosting legislative forums (Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger was a keynote speaker at the Feb. 26 event), the chamber has also recently sponsored two small business-friendly ordinances, held financial workshops and implemented a certification program — the Certified Austin Good Business Initiative — in order to introduce best practice operating standards and criteria by which to hold local businesses accountable.
Enyia said the chamber’s West Garfield Park expansion would entail replicating many of its programs in that area, in addition to shepherding the formation of a separate chamber for West Garfield Park sometime in the future.
“We want to be there for businesses not just when they’re on the brink of being called downtown for a hearing,” Enyia said at a recent West Garfield Park Community Stakeholders meeting. “But how do we make sure they can get themselves together prior to that even being necessary.”