Tag: Economic Growth Initiative

Op-Ed: Why Is Maywood Struggling Economically?

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Thursday, April 20, 2017 || By Bridgette Chatman-Lewis || OPINION || @maywoodnews 

“What does an economically segregated region look like? People living in affluent neighborhoods reap the benefits of good schools, low crime rates and access to public services while those priced out of those areas may have to travel further for access to services, work or school — if they can afford the trip at all,” according to CNN. “The result is the uneven distribution of wealth, which keeps poor neighborhoods poor and limits potential spillover effects of affluence.”

Recently it dawned on us that our firm may not be translating well in one of our adoptive communities: Maywood. As such we thought it important to let the public know why we do the work we’ve embarked on and how our work is related to wealth distribution.

Chatman Lewis Flaggs Group is a business strategy firm that focuses on economic growth initiatives and business turnaround strategies. We research and come up with innovative business models with strategic intent to grow the economy and communities at large.

We then hand off the plan to The Economic Growth Initiative, a nonprofit organization, to engage the community with transparent inclusion toward all economic growth plans.

The strategy is simple: Grow the area’s economic base, include the residents in the formative stages and work with youth to provide jobs and access to career paths that will be fulfilling and sustainable. This is all done in an effort to improve the lives of the underserved.

We accomplish our goals by partnering with some of the brightest minds in the market place to get the job done. We are laser focused when it comes to building up struggling communities such as Maywood.

We are not part of a government and remain apolitical. However, we reach out to government for support and understanding before we begin any work in hopes of growth, job creation and creating an aesthetic landscape in which the entire consumer trade area can participate.

What does that mean?

People within a five-mile radius of our consumer trade area will begin to shop and enjoy the amenities the town has to offer, including but not limited to housing, restaurants and entertainment. The village economy will then experience significant economic growth, which is often a key missing component in underserved areas.

How does this work?

By adding the much-needed goods and services the town lacks and including the residents in employment and service opportunities. Conformity to consumer needs in the trade area is also paramount to sustainable economic growth in underserved communities.

This is what has been offered by the initiative:

  • A manufacturing plant to employ 150 people with a first right of refusal for residents of Maywood.
  • A Quality Grocer installation. Five Pillar Program© – Holistic programs- Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Health and Fitness, Sports and Recreation, Career counseling for youth and the community at large.
  • Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship classes.

It is important for the initiative to acknowledge Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins for her support of our firm’s growth initiatives for the Village of Maywood. In addition, we would like to acknowledge the community partners at the Global Business Center and the Maywood Public Library in allocating space for the Five Pillar Programs©.

Last, we’d like to thank the countless resident volunteers that work tirelessly to make the community a thriving one. We are simply in awe of, and most grateful for, the support.

Although it has been difficult to grasp the fact that a village that has been plagued with an anemic economy for decades continues to struggle economically, we are grateful for the mayor’s support and look forward to improving the local economy.

As we continue our works to ‘give back’ and deliver on our planned growth initiatives for the village, we welcome you to join our efforts and build up this struggling community.

How will we accomplish our goals?

With the resident’s support and our equity partners, we should be able to make several economic installations to improve and grow the local economy. We have published a survey: “How WE can improve Maywood” (March 2017).

Back in 2016, the survey was sampled across all four village zones (1-4). The people have stated what they desire and need and we listened. Whatever happens in the village affects the 24,100 people and how they live their lives.

This survey aligns with our firm’s research over the past five years. It is our goal to work with all who would like to see this village move forward and grow economically.

We especially welcome volunteers to join us and we are available to answer questions you may have.

You can read the survey results by clicking here. Contact the firm at info@chatmanlewisconsulting.com. VFP

Bridgette Chatman-Lewis is the founder of Chatman Lewis Consulting and the Economic Growth Initiative. 

P A I D  A D V E R T I S E M E N T

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Maywood Now Has a ‘Tech District’ That Offers Weekend Courses in 3-D Printing


A series of Ultimaker 3-D printers inside of a classroom at the University of Illinois College of Business MakerLab. | University of Illinois || Below, Bridgette Chatman-Lewis, Vena Nelson, Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins, Maywood Trustee Isiah Brandon, Tumia Rumero and U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis inside of Nelson’s Global Business Center in Maywood earlier this month.

tech-picWednesday, October 26, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || UPDATED: 5:35 p.m.

“A 3-D printer can make a prototype of a Porsche in a matter of days or hours,” said business consultant Bridgette Chatman-Lewis earlier this month while hosting roughly 40 people inside of the Global Business Center, 840 S. 17th Ave., in Maywood.

The Center, which offers temporary office space and wraparound services to burgeoning businesses, is considered the hub of a technology district that Chatman-Lewis envisions for Maywood.

The Center has, for the last few weeks, also been a site for training young people in the magic of 3-D printing, a manufacturing process that creates three-dimensional objects like cars or even houses from digital files (click here for more info on the technology).

Chatman-Lewis, a native of Maywood, heads up the Oak Brook-based Chatman Lewis Consulting, which specializes in bringing economic development to hard-pressed communities.

After years of trying to gain a foothold into Maywood and at the urging Mayor Edwenna Perkins, Chatman-Lewis said her firm is now establishing a presence in the community where she was raised.

Earlier this year, Chatman-Lewis announced that Maywood would be among the communities her firm is seeking to “adopt,” in order to lure economic opportunities to town — a process the strategist said she’ll execute under an arm of her firm called the Economic Growth Initiative.

Chatman-Lewis has said EGI will execute its five-point plan in three phases. Those points include creating jobs, decreasing crime, increasing per capita income, providing youth and senior programming, and improving the community’s aesthetic landscape.

The Global Business Center, which is owned and operated by Maywood entrepreneurs Andre and Vena Nelson, was the site of the Oct. 14 kickoff for the technology aspect of EGI’s mandate to bring more youth programming into the village.

Saturday, Oct. 15 marked the start of the first session of instructional courses in 3-D printing at the Center. The eight-week training program, which takes place on the weekends, will offer young people, ages 16 to 24, the opportunity to earn a certification in 3-D printing technology, which they can then leverage into employment opportunities.

“The starting pay for 3-D printing jobs is between $45,000 and $75,000,” Chatman-Lewis said. “There’s a big demand for it in everything from soup to nuts. It’s huge.”

The course is offered through collaboration among EGI, Microsoft, the University of Illinois MakerLab and the Global Business Center — the latter of which has offered up some of its employees to serve as trained 3-D instructors. Maywood native and technology guru Sy Bounds, a frequent collaborator with the Nelsons, will facilitate the program.

The 15-person maximum enrollment level for the program’s first training cohort has already been reached, Chatman-Lewis said; however, interested young people can still apply for open spots in other 15-student cohorts. The maximum total number of students the program will accept is 100, she noted.

Although the training is free, participants will need to each fund-raise at least $100 to offset the cost it takes to administer the program.

“It’s a circle of accountability we’re going to build,” Chatman-Lewis said.

The first session will take place from October to December, with the next session taking place between February and April 2017. Although the program targets young people, 16 to 24, older applicants won’t necessarily be turned away, Chatman-Lewis said. Their names will be put in a lottery for open slots.

But the technological buzz at the Center won’t be limited to just those training courses, EGI officials said. Chatman-Lewis deemed the Center Maywood’s technology district. Bounds, she said, will serve as its czar.

The concept is to give area young people the expertise to take advantage of 21st Century economic opportunities while also maintaining a sense of place that will commit them to serving their communities even after they’ve seized those opportunities and secured those high-paying jobs.

“My research has shown that we have an incredible amount of brilliant young people,” Bounds said during the Oct. 14 kick-off event. “The problem is that we have to make sure they don’t take that information and head to Corporate America.”

In addition to 3-D printing and technology training, Chatman-Lewis said EGI will also host training courses in areas such as entrepreneurship, web development and product licensing, among others.

She said EGI is also looking for volunteers to man other community events, such as the Walk/Run it held in June and for which planning has already started for next year, a social/emotional learning program, an annual Global Initiative Network Event (GINE) and a Bulls/Sox lock-in for 3-D printing participants who successfully raise $100.

Tumia Rumero, an aide to Congressman Danny K. Davis (7th), who was in attendance at the Oct. 14 event, connected the training young people in Maywood are receiving to the wave of technology companies that are planting roots in the Chicago area.

“We have Google in our congressional district, Amazon has a headquarters here, Pandora just opened up a headquarters, Microsoft is at the Aon Center, Motorola just re-headquartered here,” Rumero said.

“With all those resources,” she said, “how do we begin to match what they’re doing with the people in the communities and so that’s where our technology advisory committee is going?”

Rumero touted a series of technology events the Congressman has been hosting over the last year, including a forum at Google’s Chicago headquarters, as an example of connecting area young people to opportunities in the technology field.

A group of students and administrators from Proviso Township District 209 High Schools attended the Google event, along with Chatman-Lewis and Bounds, who is on Davis’s technology advisory committee.

One challenge some attendees at the Oct. 14 event pointed out was how young people would be persuaded to take advantage of the tech training.

“How do you get them interested?” one attendee asked. “If you know that there are youth out here who have the brainpower and you know they can do it, how do you get them away from sports?”

Shanee Edwards, a 3-D printing course instructor and the marketing and sales specialist for Vena Nelson’s Go Big Accounting — the Business Center’s principal tenant and an associated company — said the trick to grabbing a young person’s attention is to make the learning fun.

“I would probably be inclusive. If it was my son, I’d explore the possibility that you can even design a new form of cleats,” Edwards said.

“Involve the interests they already have versus just trying to take them completely away from something they already love,” she added. “But if you find a way to incorporate [technology training inclusively], they’ll be able to make connections on their own.” VFP

For more info on the courses, email info@chatmanlewisconsulting.com

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Short Maywood Race Marks Start of Long Bet on Village’s Future

Maywood 5K couple running past finish line

Participants in Saturday’s EGI 5K Run/Walk, held at Miller Meadows Forest Preserve in Maywood, cross the finish line. Below, Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins and Bridgette Chatman-Lewis, two of the event’s motivating forces, embrace. | Photos courtesy Larice Davis.

Maywood 5K Mayor Perkins and Bridgette Chatman LewisSaturday, June 11, 2016 || By Michael Romain

People young and old, fit and unfit converged on Miller Meadows Forest Preserve in Maywood this Saturday for a 5K Run/Walk hosted by the Economic Growth Initiative and co-sponsored by several local businesses, organizations and elected officials.

The event was, in part, a celebration of the community that Maywood currently is and the one EGI’s founder, business consultant Bridgette Chatman-Lewis, envisions in the future.

The 5K is part of a more comprehensive effort by Chatman-Lewis’s consulting group to ‘adopt’ Maywood, a process that entails enticing numerous developments, such as grocery stores and manufacturers, to the village.

“The end goal is to create a bustling local economy, create jobs, decrease crime, improve the aesthetic landscape and increase per capita incomes,” said Chatman-Lewis, a Maywood native, during an interview with this publication in February. “That can be done through supermarkets, restaurants, other businesses and manufacturing.”

Chatman-Lewis said her firm has created a “sustainable platform for year-round youth programs” and a series of initiatives designed to stimulate job creation, decrease crime and enhance the local landscape.

At Saturday’s race, Stephen Jackson, one of EGI’s programming coordinators, manned a booth designed to inform participants about his array of services. Jackson, a youth mentor whose work has become widely respected throughout the city and suburbs, said his range of programs will be based on what he calls five pillars.

“It’s all about building community through these five pillars, which are entrepreneurship, innovation, health and fitness, social and emotional learning, and careers. We have different people running these programs and volunteering. We’ll have paid youth workers as well. So, it’s an all-around win-win for the community. We’ll also have the older generations as well as the younger generations involved.”

Asia Ousley, a Maywood native and a corporate accountant by profession, will also coordinate programs for EGI. She said she wants to use the platform to launch a nonprofit of her own one day.

“This is my way of giving back and bringing something back to where I was raised,” said Ousley, a graduate of Emerson Elementary School and Proviso East High School.

In keeping with Jackson’s intergenerational observation, the walk/run was a mélange of experiences and ages and physiques — including the svelte, lean strides of Proviso East track stars and band members, some of whom performed as participants were crossing the finish line.

The top runners received medals and $100 Macy’s gift certificates. Jon Sylvester and Dominique Wallace posted the fastest times of all youth participants at 19:58.4 and 27:44.5, respectively. Ryan Gilmore and Megan Mcclintock posted the fastest times for adult participants, at 19:11.7 and 37:31.2, respectively.

An hour after finishing, Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins, one of the Saturday event’s most vocal proponents and a co-sponsor, seemed excited enough to pace the course one more time. Perkins, along with Maywood resident Lucille Redmond, received special recognition for their parts planning the race.

Perkins was an early supporter of EGI after Chatman-Lewis first approached her with the proposal to adopt Maywood more than a year ago. The mayor said the event is the first of its kind in the village — at least as far she’s aware.

“Bridgette is a Maywoodian, born and raised,” Perkins said. “For a person to come back to her town and give back; there’s nothing I can do but support her. The Lord is going to bless everyone who showed up this morning.” VFP

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