In May of 2019, the National Main Street Center announced that it had selected the Morgan Park Beverly Hills Business Association (MPBHBA) to participate in its Chicago UrbanMain program.
As a result, the MPBHBA will receive technical assistance and capacity building to foster community-driven economic development in the Beverly/ Morgan Park neighborhood on the far south side of Chicago, Illinois. This work is made possible by financial support from Groupon.
UrbanMain, a program of the National Main Street Center, is designed to help restore economic vitality and promote quality of life for residents in under-resourced older and historic neighborhood commercial districts. The program uses community-driven economic development tools and services to bring sustainable growth back to these traditional neighborhood centers.
UrbanMain offers specialized services, professional development, networking, and advocacy for the field of urban commercial district practitioners. The UrbanMain Chicago team will work with the MPBHBA over an 18-month timeframe to provide comprehensive planning, extensive community engagement, training, and targeted market analysis to support corridor leaders, city officials, property owners, and residents in developing and implementing community revitalization strategies.
“The Morgan Park Beverly Hills Business Association is honored and thrilled to work with the National Main Street Center and Groupon as part of its UrbanMain program,” said Caroline Connors, Executive Director of the Morgan Park Beverly Hills Business Association. “With the technical services offered by UrbanMain, we hope to build the capacity of the MPBHBA and create innovative strategies for increased economic growth and development in the community.”
For nearly 40 years, the MPBHBA has worked to support small businesses and strengthen the economic vitality of their commercial corridors. In collaboration with other businesses, community groups, and elected officials, MPBHBA has worked to create a more active local commerce destination for their neighbors in the city and suburbs. However, the decline of brick-and-mortar retail businesses and increased competition from neighboring suburban municipalities have posed challenges for the community’s Western Avenue corridor. The Beverly/ Morgan Park UrbanMain program will focus on strengthening the Western Avenue corridor’s role as an economic engine for the community.
“This area is known for the South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade once a year, but they also have a range of activities, diverse architecture, and some great destinations,” said Dionne Baux, Director of Urban Programs at the National Main Street Center.
“I want residents to feel like they don’t need to leave the neighborhood to access amenities. I was really impressed by the MPBHBA’s dedicated staff, business owners, residents, community organizations, and political leaders who are willing to work collaboratively to make Beverly/ Morgan Park a destination in Chicago, and I’m looking forward to working with them,” she added.
The National Main Street Center has been helping revitalize older and historic commercial districts for close to 40 years. Today, its network of more than 1,600 neighborhoods and communities, rural and urban, share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. The organization is a non-profit subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The Morgan Park Beverly Hills Business Association (MPBHBA) represents the interests of more than 400 Beverly/Morgan Park businesses. They are a nonprofit organization that advocates for, promotes, connects, and educates member businesses. One of 75 Neighborhood Business Development Centers in Chicago, the MPBHBA has a solid track record of supporting local businesses for close to 40 years.
The MPBHBA serves a square area between 89th and 119th streets, from Vincennes and Sacramento avenues. The district includes two Special Service Areas (SSAs): the Western Avenue SSA 20 and the Walden Parkway SSA 64. These SSA programs fund expanded services and programs through localized property tax levies.
Featured photo (by Caroline Connors) shows the Open Outcry Brewing Company. It’s one of many Western Avenue businesses owned and operated by local residents. The business is the result of owner John Brand’s desire to serve innovative beer and pizza and create a meaningful, community-building business on the South Side of Chicago.