CHATHAM — For the past year, longtime resident Bruce Montgomery has been meeting and greeting residents, small business owners and entrepreneurs at a monthly networking meeting at Flecks Coffee House & Cafe.
The community meeting runs from 8-10 a.m. the first Friday of each month, including this Friday, at the cafe, 343 E. 79th St.
The 59-year-old founder and CEO of Technology Access Television said he started the community event as a way to give entrepreneurs, especially those in Chatham, a way to network among each other.
"We have new and emerging entrepreneurs these days who do not know each other because they are so busy. I thought this would be a great way to put them in touch with one another," said Montgomery, who grew up in Chatham. "A lot of people don't know that Chatham is the epic business center of the city."
The middle-class community is also home to several family owned businesses.
"Some of the best black-owned business have called Chatham home. There's Baldwin Ice Cream Co., Johnson Products, Seaway Bank, and let's not forget Flecks Coffee, which is owned by a mother and daughter," Montgomery said.
Melinda Kelly, executive director of the Chatham Business Association, said her nonprofit assisted the owners of Flecks Coffee House with getting an outdoor patio built this summer.
"Anytime a business uses our services, it makes us feel good. Small businesses are the engines of job creation," Kelly said. "Having an outdoor cafe is going to create more foot traffic and probably a new job for someone."
He chose the cafe as a meeting place in part because it has free WiFi and caters to a middle-class customer base.
"The food is good, too," Montgomery said. "I go to Flecks every week with my laptop to do some work."
The event occasionally has guest speakers but most times "people show up, order some food and pull up a chair to start a conversation," Montgomery said. "The mayor and governor have both been here before even though they don't live on the South Side."
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