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Business District Managers Hit Streets

For the last couple months, the 20 participants in LISC Chicago’s Business District Leadership programhave been getting to know one another via retreats, strategy days and leadership sessions, where they’ve traded expertise and ideas about how to make their neighborhood commercial corridors more prosperous and vital. They’re all economic development veterans, from Little Village to Edgewater, who’ve signed on for the six-month training that’s intended to hone their business and leadership skills.

BDL participants Nick Wolff, Tom Otto and Tina James get organized - and fed - at Janik's Cafe before heading out to interview residents and merchants on West Division Street.

PHOTOS BY GORDON WALEK

On a Wednesday morning in late March, they substituted the street for the classroom, converging on the 2000 block of West Division Street to perform a sort of kick-the-tires analysis of what makes a healthy corridor tick. Or not. 

It was immediately clear that Janik’s Café, at 2011 W. Division St., makes that block tick. It was open at 8:30 a.m., whereas FatPour, the spacious tavern next door where the group intended to gather, was not. Hence the corridor managers, under the tutelage of LISC Chicago’s Dionne Baux and consultant Larisa Ortiz, shoehorned themselves into the coffee shop and did what good students of local businesses do – ordered breakfast. Much to the delight of the proprietor. 

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Keywords: Business District Leadership, LISC

Posted in Community Development, Business & Economic Development