ENGLEWOOD — Small-business owners celebrated a South Side organization’s new offices specifically designed for those who prefer working from an office instead of their homes.
“I am ecstatic,” said 27-year-old Rachel Bernier-Green, who started Laine’s Bakery from her Kenwood home in 2012. Her goods will be sold in Whole Foods.
“With the time they had, and the plans they initially showed me, they have really blown me away with what they’ve accomplished so quickly. I can’t wait to get started.”
The Greater Englewood Development Corporation, 815 W. 63rd St., welcomed the business owners Thursday into its new business accelerator: 1,600 square feet on the fourth floor of the U.S. Bank building.
The bank is leasing the office area for free to the development corporation.
Darlene Cureton, founder of DC CPR, said she is often out and about giving CPR lessons. She praised the new office because it "gives small-business owners like myself a place to come and have an office area to have meetings."
The office has meeting rooms and private offices. Workshops, courses and technical assistance will be provided.
Glen Fulton, the nonprofit's executive director, has proposed building a larger work area next door to U.S. Bank, but he said that entrepreneurs needed a place in the interim.
“These small businesses needed somewhere to go,” Fulton said. “We couldn’t wait.”
To use the office, business owners must become members of the corporation; they can sign up at www.greaterenglewoodcdc.org. The grand opening is May 1.
With feedback received from the business community in February, a group of IIT students was able to design the area that has an open, modern feel and is filled with refurbished furniture.
“We got help from everybody, so it’s not just about us,” said Kyeore Lee, 26, of Mount Prospect, who said he and his classmates worked a lot of late nights to complete the design. “It’s just amazing how it turned out.”
Lee and four other IIT students are doing an independent study with Monica Chadha, an adjunct professor and architect. Architect Michael Newman also is working with the group.
Microsoft is discussing ways to work with the business accelerator, said Adam Hecktman, the Chicago director of Technology and Civic Engagement for Microsoft.
Ald. Willie Cochran (20th) stressed that technology will be key for the small businesses.
“As I look at the things that are happening, we know that in society today, job opportunities are going to be tied to specialization, and job opportunities are going to be tied to growth in small businesses, and that is as a result of the technology that’s going on,” he said.
“Excuses, the inability to deliver, is not something I want to be associated with. I want to get things done, and that is my model, get things done and so I’m very proud to be able to stand here today, to cut the ribbon for the innovation center. This is just a start,” Cochran said.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: