Small businesses fight cuts to neighborhood services

Chicago Mulls De-Funding Chambers of Commerce

October 25, 2010

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(WBEZ/Odette Yousef)
Amie Zander, Executive Director of the West Ridge Chamber of Commerce.

Chicago aldermen and small businesses are alarmed by a proposal to cut all funding for local chambers of commerce. The move would save more than $3 million of a $654 million gap that the city is looking to close in its 2011 budget, but at a budget hearing Monday, most aldermen opposed the move.

Chambers do streetscaping, remove snow, and promote neighborhood businesses.  Many chamber executives say the city doesn’t have the capacity to provide those services itself.  Amie Zander, Executive Director of the West Ridge Chamber of Commerce said chamber members can't afford to purchase these services on their own.

“I have so many businesses that are on a payment plan with us right now that are giving me $10 a month, because that's all they can give me right now because they're struggling,” said Zander.

Zander  said The West Ridge Chamber of Commerce stands to lose about 60 percent of its operating budget, and would have to close. Opponents of the cut said this would also be true for other chambers around the city.