Don't miss West Town Art Walk
this weekend! There are over 30 businesses participating on Chicago Avenue by hosting the work of various local fine artists and having parties with extended hours. The retailers and professional offices participating are sampling the sponsoring beer and wine, the restaurants and bars are running sales and specials, and there is a "headquarters" location in the Banco Popular parking lot at 1445 W. Chicago Ave. where consumers can pick up information, catch a trolly or rickshaw, or hang out and enjoy performance art by Out of Site or music by DJ Kevin. We've really amped up the activities this year! More details below.
West Town Chamber Board elections are at the annual members meeting October 17th at Tecalitlan. Please contact the chamber office
if you are an active chamber member and you are interested in serving on the 2014 board of directors. We are also looking for more chamber members to volunteer on active committees. Please check out the list of volunteer opportunities below and let us know if you are interested in serving on a chamber committee. Business owners often ask how they can get more involved with our programs and events, and all it takes is showing up to meetings or simply reaching out directly to the chamber staff with your ideas.
Share your ideas, keep us informed, and help the West Town Chamber to achieve our mission which is to strengthen the business community so that West Town becomes a destination for shopping, dining, professional services, nightlife and culture. Ideas from chamber members are what steer all of our committees, programs, events and initiatives; so please get involved to make a difference and to continue to make great things happen for your neighborhood!
Kara Hughes Salgado Executive Director Most pictures in this newsletter are courtesy of REP3.
| West Town Art Walk|Friday, October 4th 6-10pm
Saturday, October 5th 11am-10pm
on Chicago Avenue between Leavitt and Milwaukee
The West Town Art Walk is an annual event celebrating art in all forms-visual, musical, culinary, and otherwise-within storefronts along Chicago Avenue (between Milwaukee/Ogden and Leavitt). During this Friday & Saturday event, attendees can enjoy visual art, performance art, music, and fashion from Chicago artists all showcased within West Town's shops, businesses, restaurants, and bars along Chicago Avenue. New this year is a "party central" location at the Banco Popular parking lot (1445 W. Chicago) with maps and information, a bar with beer and wine, "lounge" area, and DJ plus performances; plus trolleys and bike rickshaws transporting guests throughout the event, an after party at Beauty Bar, and performance art along the corridor by Out of Site. Special thanks to Redfin for major sponsoring this year! Admission is free.
Click here for a larger clearer file for the West Town Art Walk MAP.
Established in 2011, the West Town Art Walk is an annual event organized by the West Town Chamber of Commerce with the Chicago Avenue business owners to celebrate our diverse community of businesses while highlighting Chicago artists. Our mission is to showcase West Town as a rich cultural hub that has much to offer residents and business owners alike.
Visit www.westtownartwalk.com for more information.
| Upcoming Meetings|
West Town Special Service Area (SSA29) Commissioners Meeting
Thursday, October 3rd
@ WTCC Office 1819 W. Chicago Ave.
The West Town SSA Commissioners meet monthly to discuss initiatives, review programs and budgets for West Town Special Service Area 29
. These meetings are open to any West Town SSA stakeholder, chamber member, or interested citizen. However, only the Mayor appointed and vetted Commissioners may make motions and vote. The chamber is the sole service provider for SSA29 and executes the programs voted on by the Commissioners.
West Town Chicago Chamber of Commerce
Board of Directors Meeting
Wednesday, October 9th
@ WTCC Office 1819 W. Chicago Ave.
The West Town Chicago Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors meet on the second Wednesday of every month. The agenda is created by the board president and includes a financial report, committee reports, old and new business. Board meetings are open to any interested chamber member, however only board officers and directors may make motions and vote.
West Town Chicago Chamber of Commerce
***ANNUAL MEMBERS MEETING***
& 2014 BOARD OF DIRECTOR ELECTIONS
Thursday, October 17th
@ Tecalitlan 1814 W. Chicago Ave.
If you only come to one chamber meeting a year, this should be the one! Join us at Tecalitlan for chips and salsa, pitchers of margaritas, and the annual members meeting and board elections. A report of the past and future chamber activities shall be given to the members by the Executive Director. 2014 President and Treasurer positions are up for election, as are up to three Officer positions on the Board.
The West Town Chamber currently represents 226 members, up 65% from only 2 years ago! Current members are mostly small businesses and entrepreneurs located throughout the West Town area. The Chamber's official service area is Grand to Division, Halsted to Kedzie. Business members within that service area are eligible to vote on committees, neighborhood issues, and chamber elections. Business members in good standing present on October 17th are eligible to cast one vote per business/membership. Voting will take place at 7:30pm 10/17/13.
Please contact the chamber office by 10/8 if you are a current Chamber Member interested in serving on the Board of Directors. We need more volunteers! The nominating committee meets on October 9th to review and nominate qualified candidates. Email: [email protected] if interested.
| West Town SSA Reconstitution Updates|
***IMPORTANT Community Meetings to
Review the West Town SSA Plans for the Future:
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
11 am - 1 pm
1105 W. Chicago Ave
Monday, November 18, 2013
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art
2320 W. Chicago Ave
The West Town Special Service Area is in the process of reconstituting and redefining its map for future services. The SSA Expansion Advisory Committee determined a PRELIMINARY MAP for future West Town SSA boundaries and services.
Proposed Future West Town SSA Corridors:
Chicago Avenue from Western to Halsted
Ashland Avenue from Chicago to Division
Milwaukee Avenue from Erie to Division
Damen Avenue from Chicago to Huron
Ogden Avenue from the Kennedy Expressway to Fry
The special services would only be provided for those properties located with addresses on the corridors listed above (not within the adjacent neighborhoods nor any side streets) - the future proposed West Town SSA would affect just properties with addresses on those specific streets within those boundaries. This new proposed map is being researched for support and feasibility and will be adjusted with feedback from the stakeholders (the property owners paying the special service tax) and the community. We will be looking for feedback regarding the proposed boundaries and services provided at the community meetings listed above.
The SSA Commission has created a colorful informational brochure that will be mailed directly to all of the property owners located in the proposed future West Town SSA announcing the community meetings with more detailed information (as well as the City of Chicago mailing announcing the community meetings and plans). SSA staff are currently performing door to door outreach with a neighborhood needs assessment survey.
The West Town SSA survey was created to understand and address the needs of business owners, property owners or residents in West Town during the process of renewing and expanding the West Town Special Service Area and its applicable services. We are encouraging people to complete the survey if they are located in the proposed future reconstituted West Town SSA boundaries (which are not final):
to participate in the online West Town SSA Neighborhood Needs Assessment Survey.
to view an updated time-line of the West Town SSA reconstitution process, activities, meetings and deadlines. Please Read More
or visit www.westtownssa.org
for more information on West Town SSA programs and services.
West Town Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors Serious Concerns RE CTA's Ashland Ave Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Proposal
The Board of Directors of the West Town Chicago Chamber of Commerce is very concerned regarding the current plans for the CTA's Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on Ashland Avenue. The chamber has received input from many businesses and residents within the West Town area on or near Ashland, and the majority of feedback thus far is opposed to the current BRT plan. The reasons for that opposition is varied but mainly due to the traffic problems they foresee the reduction from two to one lane traveling in each direction will cause on Ashland, and the problems that limited left turns would create redirecting traffic into residential areas.
The WTCCC Board of Directors have requested that the CTA forward official traffic impact studies regarding the actual projected effect the BRT will have on traffic on Ashland and on adjacent streets. In a presentation by CTA regarding the BRT it was mentioned that there are studies that show the impact of BRTs in other cities being positive to the commercial corridor and to economic development. The WTCCC wishes to review the economic impact reports from other cities where similar BRTs were implemented. The board is also interested in any research done for alternative plans to the BRT that would improve north south public transportation in Chicago. The Board has tabled creating an official stance on the BRT until they are able to review these expert studies and reports.
However, it should be made clear that the WTCCC Board's current opinion, having not reviewed any official traffic impact studies, and simply upon reviewing the current BRT design plans and local input received, is not in support of the BRT. It is the opinion of the WTCCC at this time that reducing traffic to one lane traveling in each direction will create excessive traffic on Ashland and divert more traffic to other north south streets causing increased congestion all around. The fact that the regular bus will continue to run and need to navigate the one lane is also a concern, as is the fact that trucks will inevitably double-park as they already do to make deliveries and this will cause major traffic delays and jams. The Board is also concerned that the limited left hand turns will cause traffic issues on adjacent residential streets with vehicles attempting to reach destinations by turning right and impeding upon neighborhood side streets.
Having had chamber representatives attend numerous meetings of the Ashland-Western Coalition to report back the the Board, the WTCCC Board also agrees with many of their points of opposition to the BRT and is interested in learning more about their proposal to improve existing bus service and initiating the Modern Express Bus (MEB) instead of the BRT. Having not seen the official expert traffic impact studies nor BRT economic development reports, the MEB proposal as presented by the Ashland-Western Coalition seems to make a lot more sense than the BRT. The WTCCC board agrees with the Ashland-Western Coalition that there is critical missing information about the proposed BRT including the traffic impact analysis and economic impact analysis reports.
The WTCCC Board feels it is perhaps too soon to officially oppose the BRT and understands that the CTA is still planning to hold community meetings to asses input from those businesses and residents most impacted by the BRT and adjust the design; and perhaps the traffic reports, economic impact information and studies will be made available at that time and will alter the current opinion of the chamber's members. In the meanwhile, the WTCCC Board of Directors wanted to share the current feedback received from Ashland Avenue business members and express serious concerns regarding this BRT proposal.
The WTCCC Board of Directors urge the local Aldermen and CTA officials to be sure to schedule time to address these concerns, provide the aforementioned studies and reports, and respond to all of the potential issues and problems that in our non-expert opinion will be caused by the proposed BRT. The WTCCC would also like to understand better the Modern Express Bus proposal, or any other potential alternatives to the BRT that could also achieve the CTA's end goal which is to improve the transit experience in Chicago and improve north south public transit.
More About the CTA's Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Proposal
The CTA, in partnership with the Chicago Department of Transportation, Department of Housing and Economic Development, and the Federal Transit Administration, performed a year-long planning study to assess options for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on both Ashland and Western Avenues.
After analysis and input at six public open houses in 2012, BRT is now planned for 16 miles of Ashland from Irving Park Road to 95th Street, with the first phase now being designed for central Ashland from Cortland Avenue to 31st Street with ongoing public input. Click here for more information from CDOT on the BRT plans or visit www.transitchicago.com/ashlandbrt.
Read More RE BRT
More About the Ashland-Western Coalition
The Ashland Western Coalition formed in response to the CTA's BRT proposal. The Coalition opposes the BRT and instead is supporting an alternative, Modern Express Bus (MEB), a modern cost-effective bus service on Ashland with expanded service to Andersonville. For more information on the Ashland-Western Coalition stance, executive summary, and to learn more regarding their alternative MEB proposal and upcoming meetings please visit their website: www.ashlandwesterncoalition.com.
| Take Advantage of our Choose Chicago Partnership|
WTCC Members Receive 25% Discount!
The West Town Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce a collaborative effort with Choose Chicago, the official sales and marketing organization for the city of Chicago, to raise awareness of the rich cultural assets, heritage and diversity found within our neighborhoods. By aligning WTCC with Choose Chicago our member businesses can benefit from increased exposure and promotion to the more than 46 million visitors who come to Chicago each year. Together our organizations can bring to life the full breadth of unique experiences found in West Town and share these through regional, national and international marketing and public relations initiatives driven by Choose Chicago.
Through a multi-faceted approach to selling Chicago as a travel destination, Choose Chicago's goals are to increase annual visitation to 50 million and elevate Chicago to be among the top five US cities (currently #9) for inbound international travel by 2020.
Our goal is to work closely with Choose Chicago to provide them the resources, information and expertise to leverage the opportunities to showcase our local businesses to visitors looking for a true Chicago experience.
Below are just a few initiatives with which we are supporting Choose Chicago:
- Neighborhood Microsite - Recently launched, this new neighborhood section of choosechicago.com will extensively promote Chicago's neighborhoods, inckuding the neighborhoods in West Town, through rich content, business listings, videos, maps and more.
- Chicago Restaurant Week - The 7th Annual Chicago Restaurant Week 2014 will be held January 24 - February 6. This event is designed to promote the restaurant industry and drive traffic to participating restaurants during a traditionally slow time of year. In 2013, 286 restaurant partners participated and over 513,000 diners were served.
- Chicago Theatre Week - The League of Chicago Theatres' 2nd Annual Chicago Theatre Week will take place February 11 - 16, 2014. As the presenting sponsor, Choose Chicago will help support this event which promotes Chicago's vibrant theatre scene with deeply discounted tickets at over 75 theatres throughout Chicago.
To further increase your business' exposure and build deeper relationships within the visitor industry, Choose Chicago has extended a special opportunity for our members. Become a partner of Choose Chicago before November 30, 2013 and receive 25% off your first year dues.
Partnerships start at less than $75 per year with this special offer (excluding accommodations). As a partner you will have the opportunity to be:
Listed on the Choose Chicago website and in official visitor publications:
- An online profile on www.choosechicago.com, the official destination website for Chicago which receives more than 2.5 million unique visits per year. In addition, your business will be listed on the Choose Chicago mobile app.
- Inclusion in several publications including the Chicago Official Visitors Guide with an annual distribution of over 600,000. This guide can be found exclusively at McCormick Place and the city's official Visitor Information Centers. The Official Visitors Guide is also available at Midway and O'Hare airports, select hotels and attractions and sent to consumers in key regional markets who plan visits to explore Chicago.
Your business can also:
- Participate in Chicago Restaurant Week
- Take advantage of exclusive co-op marketing and advertising opportunities
- Learn and network by attending seminars and special events exclusively for Choose Chicago partners
- Access key data and other industry resources
- Receive industry news and communications
The West Town Chamber of Commerce looks forward to a longstanding, mutually beneficial relationship with Choose Chicago to drive awareness and visitation to our neighborhoods. We hope you will consider this great opportunity.
For complete partnership information or to enroll, simply go to http://www.choosechicago.com/partners/ . Enter the promo code NCC25 in Step 4 of the online registration process to receive 25% off your partnership package. If you have questions regarding Choose Chicago partnership opportunities please contact [email protected] or 312-567-8461.
| Take Advantage of|
FREE Marketing Services!
Traffic PR, the firm hired by the West Town Chamber to garner publicity for West Town businesses, is currently assembling their next press kit focusing on Fall event news.
This FREE PR campaign sponsored by the West Town SSA is available to all West Town Chamber members and all businesses located within the West Town SSA. The Division Street Committee also funds the same FREE PR program through Traffic for all of the Division Street businesses!
Please email Jody Grimaldi at [email protected] your upcoming happenings - i.e. sales, specials, menu updates, promotions, parties, etc. If you have a promo photo to supplement, send it as well. Please limit your information to bullets or links, and include all business contact details.
Traffic PR will be issuing press releases as well as posting regularly to our active Facebook page - www.facebook.com/westtownchicago & Division Street Committee's facebook page: www.facebook.com/DoDivision.
| Download the West Town Mobile APP!|
Discovering West Town is now so easy and convenient. Simply go to your smart phone APP store and download the FREE Discover West Town mobile APP. Sponsored by the West Town SSA, this is a great marketing tool for the neighborhood businesses and we hope for consumers whom wish to discover them. On the APP is a list of area businesses by category, resources, local events, local "hot deals" and more!
Free Business Workshops & City Resources
for a flier on the new programs offered by the City's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protections Small Business Solutions Station.
Click here to learn about the City' new system to look up Business Licenses.
Call 312-744-2086 for more information. Click here for the October Schedule of Informational Business Education Workshops.
All workshops are free and are located at the City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection - City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St., Room 805.
|Affordable Care Act
What Small Businesses Need to Know
Implementation of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues in 2014. On October 1, 2013, Illinois will open its Health Insurance Marketplace website, which will allow individuals and small business owners to get comprehensive information about health insurance plans' benefits and quality and compare plan pricing.
Depending on a number of factors, individuals may qualify for health insurance premium tax credits to help defray the cost of purchasing the law's required Minimum Essential Coverage. Small businesses with fewer than 25 employees, and full-time equivalent employees, may also qualify for a tax credit to help them provide their employees with employer-sponsored health insurance coverage.
1st Ward Alderman Moreno sponsors Graffiti Action Days where volunteers from the community meet up and clean up. For more information or if you would like to volunteer to be a 1st Ward Graffiti Action "Hero", please contact Orlando at Alderman Moreno's office email@example.com.
The West Town SSA
sponsors the Graffiti Action Days in West Town by providing the graffiti removal materials and supplies. PLUS - If you are located in the West Town SSA please be sure to take advantage of the West Town SSA Graffiti Abatement Rebate Program.
The City of Chicago
also offers graffiti removal through their Graffiti Blasters program and you can make requests right online.
| Volunteer Opportunities|
West Town Chamber Committees
Committees are open to any chamber member volunteer and meetings are announced in these monthly e-newsletters and also online on the chamber calendar.
New committees are formed upon chamber member input and board approved initiatives.
Ashland Avenue - Ernest Orlando / Orlando Auto (Chair)
Chicago Avenue - Julie Ghatan / Dovetail, Chris Hunt / Seek Vintage (Co-Chairs)
Commercial Development - Tara Heibel / Sprout Home, Greg Whipple / American Eagle Bank, Lawrence Wahls (Co-Chairs)
Division Street - Nate Hilding / The Boundary, Michelle Gomez / MGO Fashion Salon (Co-Chairs)
Do Division Street Fest Planning - Josh Rutherford / The Smoke Daddy, Michelle Gomez / MGO Fashion Salon (Co-Chairs)
Do Division Family Fun Fest Planning - Ronda Locke & Julie Dickinson / LaSalle II PTO, and Suzy McClure, Friends of Pritzker Elementary School (Co-Chairs)
Chicago Food Social Planning - Bruce Finkelman / Empty Bottle Presents, Joe Monastero / Kendall College (Co-Chairs)
Grand Avenue - Bill Bruss / Design Inc. (Chair)
Hospitality and Licensing - George Simos / High Dive (Chair)
Marketing - Julie Ghatan / Dovetail, Meghan Quinn / East Village Resident & Graphic Artist (Co-Chairs)
Safety - Chad Johnson / Elevenzees (Chair)
West Fest Planning - Phil McFarland / SmallBar, George Simos/ High Dive (Co-Chairs)
West Fest Kid Fest Planning - Troy Anderson / Suzuki Orff School of Music, Tanya Drummond / Talcott LSC (Co-Chairs)
West Town Art Walk Planning - Julie Ghatan / Dovetail, Chris Hunt / Seek Vintage (Co-Chairs)
West Town SSA Reconstitution and Expansion Advisory - Stelios Valavanis / Onshore Networks LLC, Cheryl Jones / Chicago Avenue Salon (Co-Chairs)
Contact the chamber if your are interested in serving on any of these standing committees or if you have an idea for an initiative and are interested in forming a new committee.
2013 West Town Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors:
(Pictured Above: Chad, Michelle, Josh, Julie & Tara. Not pictured George & Shanita.)
President - Tara Heibel / Sprout Home
Vice President - Julie Ghatan / Dovetail
Secretary - Shanita Steele / North Community Bank
Treasurer - Josh Rutherford / Smoke Daddy
Director- Michelle Gomez / MGo Fashion Salon
Director- Chad Johnson / Elevenzees
Director - George Simos / High Dive
2013 West Town Special Service Area Commissioners:
(Pictured Above: Pete, Greg, Megan, Cheryl, Angelo, Kitt, Darci, & Walter. Not pictured: Petar.)
Darci O'Connell (Chair) - The Architrouve / BODT Fine Art & Resident
Cheryl Jones (Vice-Chair) - Chicago Avenue Salon
Kitt Swan (Secretary) - The Beetle Bar & Grill
Angelo Karras - Windy City Cafe
Megan Quinn - East Village Resident / Artist
Pete Toalson - Beauty Bar
Petar Tofovic - White Dental Studio
Walter Tun - Selfreliance Ukrainian American Federal Credit Union
Greg Whipple - American Eagle Bank
2013 West Town Chamber Staff:
(Pictured Above: Monique, Lisa, Kara, Susan & Kace)
Executive Director - Kara Hughes Salgado
Assistant Director - Susan Aldous
SSA Program Manager - Katharine "Kace" Wakem
Part-time Bookkeeper - Monique Hedley
Part-time Communications & Membership Director - Lisa Pugliese
What We Do:
The West Town Chamber of Commerce fosters community and economic development by empowering businesses with information, networking opportunities, marketing, and other programming. The chamber extensively promotes the unique elements of the West Town neighborhoods and strives to engage the public through the organization of special events that highlight existing businesses and attract consumers and new businesses to the West Town area. The chamber serves as a channel through which members can cultivate a diverse, symbiotic, and growth-oriented community.
The West Town Chamber of Commerce's mission is to strengthen its business community so that West Town becomes a destination for shopping, dining, professional services, nightlife and culture.
|Special Thanks to the LATEST DONOR LEVEL
West Town Chamber of Commerce Members
Marguerite Gardens Florist
Red Square Spa
Click here to see a Complete list of ALL West Town CHAMBER MEMBERS.