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Small Businesses Get Tech Help to Go Digital

By Wendell Hutson | October 11, 2012 5:29pm

AUBURN GRESHAM — A nonprofit organization is trying to make life easier for several small businesses who previously operated without the use of a computer.

Since 2010 the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation have steadily been handing out laptops and desktop computers to businesses "who have earned them by attending and passing technology classes," said Jimmy Prude, a community organizer who teaches technology classes for the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation. 

"To date, we have given out over 200 computers and are down to our last one," Prude said.

The pilot program ends Dec. 31, 2012 and Prude said he hoped the program would get more funding to continue.

"Through the Smart Communities Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, which is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, training and technology equipment was made possible for these businesses," added Prude.

On Oct. 1 Diamond Waste & Recycling Corporation, Cookie's Coctail Lounge, E & J Tire Shop, and Charda Hair Care, all located in Auburn Gresham, were the latest group of businesses to complete technology classes, receive a certificate and get a computer, said Pia Shantee, manager of the Business Resource Network Center for the Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation.

"Classes are held Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. One class is an introductory one and the other teaches civic engagment," she added. "And these classes are open to anyone living in Chicago. But to actually be able to receive a computer, you must live in one of the five communities the program targets."

Besides Auburn Gresham the other areas are Chicago Lawn, Englewood, Pilsen, and Humboldt Park.

E & J Tire Shop Manager Aralle Warren, whose father, John, owns the business, said the new computer had made a world of difference.

"No more paper receipts or files," Warren said. "We now do every thing electronically."