To the editors:
On behalf of the Greater North-Pulaski Development Corporation (GNPDC), I would like to address two items in Ben Joravsky’s Neighborhood News feature of February 28, “Economic Development: Small Players Stiffed in State Funding Shift.”
The first is the incorrect statement that the selection of GNPDC as lead organization for the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in its region “leaves the black west side communities underfunded.” In fact, the funding shift will substantially increase the level of support to organizations serving the black west side. Prior to the reorganization, no SBDCs other than GNPDC were serving significant portions of this area. In addition to GNPDC’s ongoing service to the Austin and Humboldt Park communities, we are subcontracting a substantial portion of SBDC funding to three other industrial and business development groups serving black neighborhoods to our south. These groups are: Fifth City Industrial Promotions, the Lawndale Business and Local Development Corporation and the Kinzie Industrial Development Corporation.
The second item, a quote attributed to and since denied by Monroe Roth of the Chicagoland Enterprise Center, suggests that GNPDC may “lack the expertise” to work with the west side community. Again, a few facts may dispel the doubts. GNPDC was founded 15 years ago and was selected in 1984 by the Washington administration to pilot the City’s neighborhood-based industrial retention program. Our expertise was considered enough of a model to encourage our colleagues in the administration and all administrations since to expand the program to a network of ten other groups that followed our lead. GNPDC has more recently been brought in to consult administrations in Pittsburgh and Cleveland, whose industrial retention programs are still evolving.
I respectfully suggest that Mr. Joravsky and the Reader could have been more thorough in developing this article, including talking to more of the organizations that are written about, dealing with the issue of industrial retention and its importance to the city, and not obtaining quotes that are later categorically denied by their sources.
James S. Lemonides
Ben Joravsky replies:
Let’s get it straight. In the course of a seven-page article about the misfortunes of several groups who lost crucial funding in the reorganization of a state program, I devoted one–that’s right, one–paragraph to Greater North, which, under that same re- organization, had its allowance increased. Greater North was described as a “good group” that might have some difficulties adjusting to its new duties. In other words, it was a passing, rather innocuous reference. In return, I got 200 or so words of self-righteous puffery topped off by a patronizing paragraph of “advice.”
Let me be even clearer, Mr. Lemonides: the article wasn’t about your organization, so I had no reason to quote you, as hard as you may find that to believe. It was about other good groups that may have to lay off staff or cut back programs because they don’t have your luck or connections. If you felt compelled to write, you might have at least mildly criticized your patrons at the state for forcing Chicago to fight over crumbs. Or you could have spared a sympathetic word or two for your less fortunate friends. You’re supposed to be allies in the struggle to revive Chicago–remember?
As for the quotes, I stand by my story.