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Chicago neighborhood businesses agree: We need ‘Chi Biz Strong’

The past 15 months have been a nightmare for small businesses. Never has it been more important to eliminate the red tape that impedes business growth.

When Southport Lanes & Billiards closed late last year, the small business posted this on its website: “We outlasted Prohibition and the 1918 Spanish flu, but not COVID-19.”
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Small businesses are the lifeblood of our community. They deliver the vibrancy and character that make Chicago’s neighborhoods so unique while also bringing jobs and economic opportunity where they are needed most.

As local chambers of commerce, we are on the ground with small business owners listening to their needs and working hard to help them succeed.

Needless to say, the past 15 months have been a nightmare for the small businesses in our communities. Though local businesses rose to the challenge of the pandemic, we lost too many, and many more are on the brink of survival right now.

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes. Letters should be approximately 350 words or less.

Without immediate action to jumpstart new businesses and stabilize existing ones, we fear the recovery ahead will be long, painful and uncertain. Therefore, on behalf of local business owners, we are calling on the Chicago City Council to take bold action and pass the Chi Biz Strong Initiative.

For too long, government has been a burden on businesses, and never has it been more important to eliminate the unnecessary red tape that impedes business growth.

This bold plan will do just that by helping fill empty restaurant spaces through an expedited licensing process, allowing sign permits to be issued without full City Council approval, legalizing sidewalk signs and extending the life-saving third-party delivery fee cap for restaurants. These initiatives and many more will ensure that we don’t return to the old way of business that did not work.

While we are finally fully reopened, we are not fully recovered. We are facing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from the pandemic and implement the real change our businesses demand. They have sacrificed so much over the past 15 months — let’s repay our business community by passing the Chi Biz Strong Initiative.

Craig Chico
President, Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council

Martin Sorge
Executive Director, Uptown United & Uptown Chamber of Commerce

Tonya Trice
Executive Director, South Shore Chamber of Commerce

Make gang membership illegal

Mayor Lori Lighfoot says Chicago has joined a “club of cities to which no one wants to belong: cities with mass shootings.” Is the mayor living on the same planet as the rest of us? We didn’t just join the club, we are a charter member.

Responding to last weekend’s latest tragedy, she said this week: “The reality is, our city is safe.” Where? On your own block with those extra cops you routinely throw under the bus? Or is it on the Mag Mile where you couldn’t stop looters not once, but twice, from destroying our safe city?

There is no one solution, but the reality is this: it’s the gangs. Our current laws allow us to go round them up and charge them with racketeering. If those laws aren’t tough enough, new ones are needed. Make it illegal to belong to a gang in Chicago. Unconstitutional? My right to not get shot minding my own business trumps your right to be a thug.

Scot Sinclair, Third Lake