SOUTH SHORE — Johnson Publishing Company CEO Desiree Rogers will be the keynote speaker at the African-American Small Business Expo being sponsored by the city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Saturday.
Rogers is scheduled to speak at 10:30 a.m. and Maria Guerra Lapacek, commissioner for the business affairs department, said she encourages every entrepreneur and business owner to attend.
“The Small Business Center on the Road series brings opportunities directly into a community for new and established businesses to prosper and grow,” said Lapacek. “Not only are we bringing an abundance of resources, but we are excited for Desiree Rogers to offer her uncanny business expertise to all attendees.”
She added that more than 40 exhibitors will be at the free event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive.
The purpose of the event, said Mika Stambaugh, a spokeswoman for the business affairs department, is to provide easier access to information for small business owners.
“We realize not everyone is able to come down to City Hall or some people prefer one-on-one interaction, so we launched the Small Business On the Road series that offers a temporary one-stop shop in the communities where the people and businesses live," said Stambaugh. "The events ease the process by providing advice on how to start a small business, navigate the licensing process, comply with tax laws, interact with chambers of commerce, and access capital.”
Abraham Lacy, executive director of the nonprofit Far South Community Development Corporation, will moderate a noon panel discussion about microlending. Panelists are Jamie Rhee, chief procurement officer for the city of Chicago; Melinda Kelly, executive director of the Chatham Business Association; Teyonda Wertz, executive director of the nonprofit South Shore Chamber Inc; Gus Issacson, executive director, Central Lakeview Merchants Association.
Rogers, who resigned in 2010 as the White House social secretary, said helping small businesses grow is key to improving America's economy.
“As the CEO of an iconic African-American business based in Chicago, I strongly support opportunities where we can all collectively convene, network and discuss ways we can leverage each other,” said Rogers.
This is the third of five scheduled Small Business Center on the Road Series. The remaining two expos are the Asian-American Business Expo on Sept. 27 at the UIC Forum, 725 W. Roosevelt Road; and the North Side Small Business Expo on Oct. 25 at Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson Ave.
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