Ricardo Lopez of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning explains the neighborhood plan at the September 5, 2018, meeting of the McKinley Park Civic Association.

McKinley Park Businesses to Convene Toward Neighborhood Planning

Published September 11, 2018

A first-of-its-kind gathering of McKinley Park neighborhood businesses looks to inform community planning at the Business Focus Group breakfast on Sept. 19 at the 36Squared Business Incubator. Part of the McKinley Park Development Council’s project to create a comprehensive neighborhood plan, the event welcomes the participation of all enterprises in the McKinley Park Community Area and the Central Manufacturing District.

The focus group’s business outreach is an important component of the neighborhood plan, which is administered as a project of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), said council President John Belcik. “This plan will help guide McKinley Park into its future,” he said.

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The focus group, which is free for attendees, will solicit ideas for improving the local business and economic environment. This feedback will then be integrated into the neighborhood plan, already under development and with a targeted release date in 2020.

The event takes place at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, September 19, at 3636 S. Iron St., Chicago. All McKinley Park businesses are encouraged to RSVP by contacting CMAP’s Ricardo Lopez at rlopez@cmap.illinois.gov or (312) 386-8766.

“I’m very happy that CMAP is focusing on McKinley Park,” said Andrew Fogaty, director of the business incubator and head of the Illinois Small Business Development Center sited there. “You can’t beat McKinley Park: It’s easily accessible using public transit; has a variety of affordable tech, office and manufacturing spaces; and already has a thriving entrepreneurial community.”

A light breakfast for the event comes courtesy of The Bagelers, a McKinley Park business sited at the 36Squared incubator that is also planning to participate in the forum. “Growing locally is growing sustainably,” said The Bagelers President Jotam Torres, noting the many benefits of a networked business environment and “like-minded businesses that care about their communities.”

“Without the support of the many neighborhood shops, restaurants and grocers that buy our products, we would have nothing,” Torres said.

Outreach to McKinley Park neighborhood residents and neighborhood stakeholders has already been ongoing all summer, said council Board Member Dayna Calderon. This includes a packed forum in July and the online survey at https://mckinleypark.metroquest.com, which will be active through September.

“This is an exciting time to meet, brainstorm and create a dialogue with one another,” Calderon said. She exhorted all in the neighborhood to take the online survey: “We owe it to ourselves to come together with a vision to make McKinley Park an economic, social and cultural boom for all of us.”

The Sept. 19 focus group represents one of the first activities of the development council’s business committee, which is establishing programs to support local businesses and economic development. A sign-up to receive additional information will be available at the event.

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