WBEZ | small businesses http://www.wbez.org/tags/small-businesses Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en If big food buys your favorite 'natural' food brand, will you trust it? http://www.wbez.org/news/if-big-food-buys-your-favorite-natural-food-brand-will-you-trust-it-113303 <p><div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/gettyimages-175262665-6ac2b4aa49caa790062473b67afb2a0f887371b4-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 449px; width: 600px;" title="Perdue, the poultry giant, acquired the Niman Ranch name and reputation of raising animals without antibiotics in September. (John Greim/Universal Images Group/Getty Images)" /></div><div><p>Big food companies are buying up small ones.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.coca-colacompany.com/brands/honest-tea">Honest Tea</a>&nbsp;is now part of Coca-Cola. The French company Danone controls&nbsp;<a href="http://www.stonyfield.com/">Stonyfield</a>&nbsp;yogurt. Hormel owns&nbsp;<a href="http://www.applegate.com/">Applegate</a>natural and organic meats.</p><p>The Cornucopia Institute has put together a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cornucopia.org/who-owns-organic/">poster</a>&nbsp;that shows the full extent of the merger wave, at least for the organic industry. In the latest deal, announced a few weeks ago, Perdue Farms, a big poultry producer based in Maryland,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-09-08/perdue-farms-to-buy-natural-food-holdings-from-lnk-partners">bought</a>&nbsp;Niman Ranch, which started as an idealistic group of farmers protesting against companies like Perdue.</p><p>For shoppers who like their food natural, local and organic, though, these deals can be unsettling. Will they still trust a food brand if someone else now owns it?</p><div id="res447255015"><div><div>As it happens, some of the founders of those companies wonder the same thing.</div></div></div><div id="res447255033"><div><div>Take these three: Bill Niman, Gene Kahn and Grant Lundberg. Niman started Niman Ranch, Kahn founded<a href="http://www.cascadianfarm.com/">Cascadian Farm</a>, a pioneer of organic food and Grant Lundberg is CEO of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.lundberg.com/">Lundberg Family Farms</a>, which sells organic rice.</div></div></div><p>Each of these companies started with its own vision of a better way to grow food. &quot;For us, the innovation was raising animals without the use of pharmaceuticals and chemicals,&quot; Niman says.</p><p>At roughly the same time, in the early 1970s, Gene Kahn started a back-to-the-land experiment that turned into a business. &quot;I became enamored by the whole notion of agriculture, and farming, and improving the environmental performance of agriculture,&quot; he says. Grant Lundberg&#39;s grandparents, for their part, were influenced by the trauma of the Dust Bowl. &quot;Remembering some of those experiences, they started to farm a little different from their neighbors,&quot; Lundberg says.</p><div id="res447253609" previewtitle="A grilled Niman Ranch pork chop. Perdue Farms, a big poultry producer based in Maryland, bought Niman Ranch in September."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="A grilled Niman Ranch pork chop. Perdue Farms, a big poultry producer based in Maryland, bought Niman Ranch in September." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/09/7146901015_b36a19c56e_o_sq-e2fa29ca1f738d59fee751316c8ef32ece59a80c-s300-c85.jpg" style="height: 250px; width: 250px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="A grilled Niman Ranch pork chop. Perdue Farms, a big poultry producer based in Maryland, bought Niman Ranch in September. (Ego Faylona/Flickr)" /></div><div><p>In addition to a vision, though, these companies had ambition. They wanted to expand, and they did, riding a wave of demand for humanely raised meat, organic fruit and organic rice.</p></div></div><p>That&#39;s when big, conventional, food companies started calling with marriage proposals.</p><p>&quot;We have offers a lot,&quot; Lundberg says. &quot;They want to explore, they want to talk about the idea of purchasing, or making an investment in the company.&quot;</p><p>So these founders (or, in the case of the Lundberg family, the grandchildren of the founders) all faced a choice. Should they sell? Would it be selling out?</p><p>Gene Kahn, from Cascadian Farm, can&#39;t stand that phrase, &quot;because it&#39;s so akin to selling out your soul to the devil.&quot;</p><p>He says that&#39;s it&#39;s not that simple. Part of the pitch that the big companies typically make involves a promise to expand the company&#39;s vision, converting more land to organic farming, or raising more animals without hormones and drugs.</p><p>&quot;Who do you want to work with, if you&#39;re really committed to improving agriculture?&quot; Kahn asks. &quot;Who is it that you want to talk [to]? Do you want to just talk to yourself? Or do you want to talk to the people who control all the acres?&quot;</p><p>None of these food idealists have anything against the sheer size of big food companies, by the way. They agree: Big can be good. Efficiency makes food affordable.</p><p>&quot;You&#39;re a cynic if you say only small companies can ... have values, aren&#39;t you?&quot; Lundberg says. &quot;Somehow you have to believe that size doesn&#39;t matter.&quot;</p><p>Each founder, however, has pursued a different path.</p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_9907130661.jpg" style="float: right; height: 210px; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="In this Tuesday, July 13, 1999 photo, half gallons of Organic Cow milk sit on the shelf of a grocery store in Williston, Vt. The H. P. Hood Company sold its' Vermont-based subsidiary to the Colorado-based company, Horizon, the largest distributor of organic food products in the country. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)" /><p>The Lundberg family has spurned all offers. Grant Lundberg says that his company doesn&#39;t really need investors. And if you sell, he says, there&#39;s no way to make sure that the name Lundberg Family Farms &quot;would continue to represent that commitment to the environment, producing high-quality food.&quot;</p><p>Gene Kahn, though, sold Cascadian Farm to one of the biggest food companies in America: General Mills. That was 15 years ago.</p><p>He says it&#39;s worked out really well. &quot;They&#39;ve not only preserved the ethics and the whole vision of the company, they&#39;ve improved it,&quot; he says.</p><p>Bill Niman, meanwhile, has complicated feelings about the recent sale of Niman Ranch to Perdue.</p><p>&quot;Right now, I feel pretty good about it,&quot; he says. Niman has some emotional distance, by now, to the company that he founded. He actually left Niman Ranch eight years ago.</p><p>&quot;The important thing is that Perdue is very capable of adhering to the same kind of standards for treating animals better, and treating farmers more respectably,&quot; he says.</p><p>In fact, Perdue may be forced to follow that way of operating, Niman says. The poultry giant just spent a lot of money for the Niman Ranch name and reputation. It wouldn&#39;t want to ruin that asset, he says.</p><p>But Niman still worries that the new owners will just try to maintain that reputation through marketing, with slogans that don&#39;t mean much. &quot;These bigger outfits have a lot of marketing power, and they&#39;re able to spin things and create confusion in the marketplace, which is a little bit frightening for me.&quot;</p><p>He admits that he doesn&#39;t feel the same about Applegate products, now that Hormel owns it. He doesn&#39;t buy Stonyfield yogurt anymore. He says he just doesn&#39;t trust the new owners quite as much.</p><p>To keep that trust, big food companies may have to do more than buy a brand. They may need to show skeptical consumers that they&#39;re sticking with the principles of that company&#39;s founders.</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/10/12/445005485/if-big-food-buys-your-favorite-natural-food-brand-will-you-trust-it?ft=nprml&amp;f=445005485" target="_blank">via NPR</a></em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 12 Oct 2015 16:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/if-big-food-buys-your-favorite-natural-food-brand-will-you-trust-it-113303 The store next door: On the rise of local markets http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-06/store-next-door-rise-local-markets-107583 <p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-1ad6e89e-1eb5-56ce-3f1c-43e04dafa5ca"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/486759_555148634537472_1221844265_n-580x386.jpg" title="(Photo courtesy of Dose Market)" /></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>A chain store is a menace. Or perhaps it is a blessing. The discourse on the matter changes swiftly, but one thing&#39;s for certain: the rise of shopping local is not a trend. At its core, it is an issue of community. It is about what a community needs and what a community does not realize it needs. April Francis, founder of the monthly <a href="http://dosemarket.com/" target="_blank">Dose Market</a> understood this perfectly when she created her market, celebrating its two-year anniversary this weekend. And as her festival rose in popularity, so too have efforts in neighborhoods across the city (in Wicker Park, Logan Square and West Loop) to address the questions, concerns, and curiosities of local consumers. Where is this coming from? Who made this? Why should I care?</span></p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/200-580x386.jpg" style="float: right; height: 192px; width: 288px;" title="(Photo courtesy of Dose Market)" />The rise of local markets coincides with the rise and re-emphasis of shopping local. What does it mean to shop local? Well in many minds, it is not solely about purchasing from a neighborhood store. The idea of local could expand easily to regional. Goods made in Michigan or Indiana might not be as close as something made in the heart of the city, but it&rsquo;s a better representation of supporting the community and lowering costs and environmental impact of transportation than purchasing from across the country or the globe.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-1ad6e89e-1ebf-1c11-8542-66368b1cb67e">&ldquo;My whole life I&rsquo;ve just been fascinated with small business owners,&rdquo; Francis said. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>Dose Market entered the consciousness of Chicagoans and quickly grew in popularity due to its attention to the taste levels of its customers and the changing needs of its sellers (or Dosers, as the market likes to call them). Francis and her team try to &ldquo;curate&rdquo; a mix of Dosers for each event. Sellers can apply online or are found through recommendations and personal emails. Finding the perfect mix of sellers is key to make each month&rsquo;s market a success. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>&ldquo;If we didn&rsquo;t curate Dose, we wouldn&lsquo;t get the mix of sellers and we wouldn&rsquo;t get the mix of products we want,&rdquo; she said. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>By working the markets, the local business owners have also been able to thrive and succeed by adapting to the wants of their customers. That&rsquo;s the great thing about small businesses and the great thing about the rise of these markets. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>&quot;[Each new event] gives people the tools and ability to thrive and succeed at what they&rsquo;re doing,&rdquo; Frances said. &ldquo;It is the perfect storm.&rdquo; </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>Dosers get real face time with their customers. It is a mutually-beneficial experience. More than just faceless transactions, it is a way for customers to know more about the things they buy and business owners to know more about the people that want to buy their goods.&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bellwether_header_4inch.jpg" style="float: left;" title="(Logo courtesy of Bellwether)" />The latest market to enter the fray is <a href="http://followbellwether.com/" target="_blank">Bellwether</a>. Founded by creators of the Renegade Craft Fair and The Vintage Bazaar, Bellwether separates itself from other markets by creating an event that expands beyond what can just be bought and sold. The founders describe the event as a market, happening and feast. Most other markets weigh heavily in one area or the other in terms of themes. Dose Market, while featuring a strong number of food options, relies heavily on well-crafted goods and local designers. Fete Market, which recently ended in second event, was a &ldquo;foodies&rdquo; dream from day one.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Bellwether is our version of taking the best of all of these [specific markets] and whipping it up into a creativity explosion,&rdquo; co-founder Mat Daly said.</p><p dir="ltr">Beginning this weekend at The Hideout and moving to the Garfield Park Conservatory in September, Bellwether will feature intimate musical performances, film screenings, food vendors, libations, art installations and a selection of different regional purveyors. The market will also offer games, classes in terrariums and yarn spinning, and a special brunch at local restaurant Ada St.</p><p dir="ltr">Tortoise&#39;s Jeff Parker is among the performers and WBEZ&#39;s Tony Sarabia will DJ.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Bellwether is<span>&nbsp;</span>way more than a market,&rdquo; Daly said. &ldquo;It&#39;s experiential and ever-changing.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-1ad6e89e-1ec0-0801-d198-c731697f56d6">These markets create a hub for what is happening locally. One can be surrounded by people with the same interests. It is a heady realization.&nbsp;<span id="docs-internal-guid-1ad6e89e-1ec1-090f-825f-c1e8f65f21a3">They fuel the senses and</span></span><span id="docs-internal-guid-1ad6e89e-1ec1-9efc-310f-05d90bf6fca8">&nbsp;introduce Chicagoans to the passions and projects of the people around them, further connecting them to the communities in which they live. Rather than existing in a depersonalized and solely commodified culture, customers are given the chance to interact with and better understand makers and their products.&nbsp;</span>This question remains important: who makes the things I love? Returning to our roots, we can now truly know.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Dose Market returns to the River East Art Center on Sunday, June 9. Tickets are $10. Bellwether runs from Saturday, June 8 through Sunday, June 9 and has a suggested donation of $10.</em></p></p> Fri, 07 Jun 2013 07:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-06/store-next-door-rise-local-markets-107583 Emanuel vows ordinance to trim business licenses http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-vows-ordinance-trim-business-licenses-98315 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Emanuel1croppedandscaledV.jpg" style="width: 233px; float: left; margin: 4px; height: 417px;" title="The Chicago mayor said Tuesday he’ll propose trimming the number of licenses the city requires from 117 to 49. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)"></div><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is promising an ordinance that would trim the types of business licenses the city requires by 60 percent. He said the measure, planned for City Council introduction on Wednesday, would cut the number from 117 to 49 and make it easier for companies to operate in the city.</p><p>“I believe in oversight and regulation but I also believe in small businesses,” Emanuel said at a news conference Tuesday in the city’s Logan Square neighborhood. “They are the lifeblood of economic activity and job creation in our neighborhoods and our cities. I want all these business owners focused on their customer, not City Hall.”</p><p>A statement from the mayor’s office said the ordinance would help a range of businesses. The statement said pet store owners until now have needed one license to sell goldfish and another to sell fishbowls or fish food. It said some automobile repair shops have needed as many as four licenses to work on cars, store chemicals, hold tires and sell windshield wipers.</p><p>Rosemary Krimbel, commissioner of the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, said restaurants also stood to gain. “Right now they need a retail food establishment license to operate,” she said. “But often, if they’re selling a cookbook or maybe some hot sauce or maybe just T-shirts, they also need a limited business license. They’ll no longer need that second license. That license costs $250.”</p><p>Emanuel said the reforms would mean fewer fines on business owners. Their annual savings would top $2 million, he added. That could mean less city revenue. Emanuel insisted the ordinance would spur economic growth that would make up the difference.</p><p>The ordinance would allow city inspectors to spend less time citing companies for having the wrong paperwork and more time cracking down on illegal business operations, the mayor’s office said. The proposal also includes new tools for inspectors to focus on irresponsible companies, such as those that sell tobacco to minors or defraud consumers, the mayor’s office added.</p><p>The legislation would also give the city more flexibility to provide novel sorts of businesses with a temporary permit allowing them to open shop while the city figured out how to license them. Emanuel held the news conference at one of those businesses, Logan Square Kitchen, a shared cooking facility at 2333 N. Milwaukee Ave. The owner has nearly drowned in Chicago red tape.</p><p>The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce immediately hailed the plan, praising the promised flexibility for startup companies. “One of the biggest challenges for businesses in Chicago is to obtain all the necessary licenses to be able to open their doors,” said Jerry Roper, the chamber’s chief, in a statement.</p><p>The mayor’s office declined to release a draft of the legislation on Tuesday afternoon and said officials have yet to finalize it.</p></p> Tue, 17 Apr 2012 14:23:13 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-vows-ordinance-trim-business-licenses-98315 Tackling Jews’ economic woes, one business card at a time http://www.wbez.org/story/tackling-jews%E2%80%99-economic-woes-one-business-card-time-90999 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-25/shalomklein.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It's hard to feel like there's much any of us can do to help fix our economy these days. But in north suburban Skokie, an unlikely young man is taking a stab at it by playing a sort of business matchmaker within his Jewish community.</p><p>If you encounter a 22-year old college graduate at a job fair these days, you'd expect to hear a tale of woe. Endless job searches, fruitless leads, and a mountain of college debt. Well, not so with Shalom Klein.&nbsp;</p><p>At a job fair at North Side College Preparatory High School last week, he was the guy soliciting resumes. Often from people much older than him, which he says felt a bit weird sometimes.</p><p>Klein's appearance belies his young age. He wears a beard, a suit, he has a yarmulke on his head in the tradition of observant male Jews, and he carries a leather-bound folder.</p><p>Klein's here to recruit people like Don Richie — a technical writer — and also some of the companies here, to his job fair. It'll be Thursday night in Skokie. It's called The Business Event. It's the culminating event of an organization Klein started a year ago, called Jewish B2B Networking.</p><p>Klein questions Richie about what kind of work he’s looking for.</p><p>“Well, I’m a technical writer,” Richie said.&nbsp; “Really, so instruction manuals...?” “That's right,” Richie said. “Oh, you know what a technical writer does. That's great.”</p><p>Klein started it to hook up small businesses in Chicago's Jewish community. Most of them are on Chicago's North Side and Skokie.&nbsp; It's his own sort of Jewish "stimulus plan."</p><p>“Having gone to school in Rogers Park, living in Skokie, I see Devon Street, I see Dempster, and I see the all the vacant storefronts, I see the crime that's going up, and I completely attribute that to the strain of businesses and the numbers of people that are unemployed,” Klein said.</p><p>Klein's fix: networking. It may sound simplistic, but he thinks it leads to jobs and economic growth.&nbsp;</p><p>“I don't have a background in economic development and job creation, I'm not a career coach. But I've come up with more of the ... I guess the on-the-street version of how to address the problems.”</p><p>In fact, Klein's background is in something entirely different. He went to college to be a rabbi. There's another reason he seems an unlikely candidate to take on these big issues:</p><p>Klein had to apply for a job himself when he was working in New York, but count himself as fortunate as he works in a family business.</p><p>Klein works at his dad's accounting, bookkeeping and debt-collections firm. He'll probably run it after his dad retires. So he's never had to worry about unemployment like many of the people he tries to help. But Klein says the idea for Jewish B2B came from expanding his family business. He went on a big networking spree to find new small business clients.</p><p>“I realized that so many of our clients, friends, and family, needed to connect with each other. A realtor needs a photographer to take pictures of their listings, a photographer needs a lawyer, a lawyer needs an accountant. It was just a matter of connecting the dots,” he said.</p><p>Klein started with a smallish networking event at a Kosher restaurant in Skokie. He expected about 20 people to show up. Instead, nearly 80 came.</p><p>“And the next day I walked into a coffee shop, and I saw two meetings going on from the day prior. And I knew I hit on something big,” he said.</p><p>Klein expects his latest event will draw 2,500 people. Among them –some heavyweights: Congressmen Jan Schakowsky and Robert Dold, and Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon.</p><p>Klein admits there are some mornings he wakes up and is like, How did I get here? “I don't know what it was. I don't know what it was exactly that brought so many people together. I know how to plan an event. I know what food to order, I know where to do it, I know how to promote an event.”</p><p>One more thing: the business card exchange. Before leaving, this WBEZ reporter gave her card to Klein.&nbsp; Klein in turned pulled out a nearly one-inch stack of cards.</p><p>“Every single day I meet with a lot of people. Today, Odette, I think you're my 12<sup>th</sup> meeting of the day,” Klein said.</p><p>It was only 2:00 p.m.</p></p> Thu, 25 Aug 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/tackling-jews%E2%80%99-economic-woes-one-business-card-time-90999 Housing groups salute banking giant for rehab deal http://www.wbez.org/story/austin/housing-groups-salute-banking-giant-rehab-deal <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Hartnack_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>One of the nation&rsquo;s largest banks Friday provided details about an agreement with some nonprofit groups in Chicago-area neighborhoods devastated by foreclosures. <br /><br />The deal, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/austin/us-bancorp-cuts-deal-housing-advocates">revealed Wednesday by WBEZ</a>, stems from the collapse of Oak Park-based banking chain FBOP Corp. The company&rsquo;s flagship, Park National Bank, was known for donations and loans in low-income areas. In 2009, federal authorities took over FBOP and sold it to Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp, the parent of U.S. Bank.<br /><br />U.S. Bancorp said it couldn&rsquo;t fill Park National&rsquo;s shoes in the community. After protests, though, the banking giant last fall started negotiating with a coalition of nonprofit housing groups. The two sides reached a deal a few weeks ago and kept it quiet until this week.<br /><br />U.S. Bancorp is promising $600,000 in interest-free loans this year to buy six foreclosed homes in Chicago&rsquo;s Austin neighborhood and Maywood, a suburb nearby. Community groups will then renovate them and sell them at cost. If the effort breaks even, U.S. Bancorp will lend another $800,000 next year and $1 million more in 2013, bringing the total to $2.4 million.<br /><br />To celebrate the deal, U.S. Bancorp officials flew in for a gathering outside an Oak Park branch Friday. They included Richard Hartnack, vice-chairman of the company&rsquo;s consumer and small-business banking.<br /><br />Could this agreement be a model for banks and community groups to soften effects of the nation&rsquo;s housing crisis? Or is the deal just a U.S. Bancorp public-relations ploy? We got a chance to ask Hartnack at the celebration and included his responses in this WBEZ segment:<br /><br /><span player="null" class="filefield_audio_insert_player" id="filefield_audio_insert_player-89527" href="/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-march/2011-03-04/bank2way110304cm.mp3">bank2way110304cm.mp3</span></p></p> Fri, 04 Mar 2011 20:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/austin/housing-groups-salute-banking-giant-rehab-deal U.S. Bancorp cuts deal with housing advocates http://www.wbez.org/story/austin/us-bancorp-cuts-deal-housing-advocates <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Virgil_Crawford.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>One of the nation&rsquo;s largest financial firms will fund some nonprofit groups in Chicago-area neighborhoods devastated by foreclosures. <br /><br />Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp, the parent of U.S. Bank, has faced pressure from community groups in West Side neighborhoods and nearby suburbs since 2009, when it purchased an Oak Park-based banking chain, FBOP Corp., as part of a federal rescue.<br /><br />FBOP units included Park National Bank, a Chicago-area lender known for charity and investment in low-income areas. U.S. Bancorp said it couldn&rsquo;t fill those shoes, but last fall started negotiating with a cluster of West Side groups called the Coalition to Save Community Banking.<br /><br />Now they&rsquo;ve inked an agreement. U.S. Bancorp will put up $600,000 for rehabbing six foreclosed homes, according to the coalition&rsquo;s Rev. Catherine Palmer. Three of the homes are in Chicago&rsquo;s Austin neighborhood and three are in Maywood, a suburb nearby.<br /><br />Palmer says U.S. Bancorp will contribute a smaller sum for housing advocacy by the coalition and four other groups: Bethel New Life, Inc.; South Austin Coalition; Westside Health Authority; and Maywood-based Housing Helpers, Inc.<br /><br />U.S. Bancorp spokeswoman Lisa Clark confirmed the two sides have struck a deal, but she declined to provide details.<br /><br />John Taylor, president and CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition in Washington D.C., praises the bank. &ldquo;The fact that it&rsquo;s willing to make some commitments to local organizations to help them do their work is a good sign.&rdquo;<br /><br />But Taylor offers some cautionary advice: &ldquo;The groups need to continue to work together to make sure that the bank is indeed making the loans for mortgages and, for that matter, for small businesses and needs that are in the community.&rdquo;<br /><br />U.S. Bancorp and the coalition are planning to unveil the agreement this Friday.</p></p> Wed, 02 Mar 2011 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/austin/us-bancorp-cuts-deal-housing-advocates