Business owners and local leaders gathered Thursday to announce the launch of a new Pilsen Chamber of Commerce. Credit: Madison Savedra/Block Club Chicago

PILSEN — Small business owners have formed the Pilsen Chamber of Commerce to uplift entrepreneurs and help them stay afloat as the economy recovers during the pandemic.

Owners and local officials gathered Thursday at the National Museum of Mexican Art to announce the chamber’s launch and get word out about the opportunity for business owners to become members.

Many of Pilsen’s roughly 1,400 businesses are immigrant-owned, and there aren’t enough resources easily available to owners, leaders with the chamber said. The chamber’s main goal will be to connect them with information in English and Spanish about those resources, said Yadira Enriquez, chief financial officer of Enriquez Produce in Pilsen.

Miguel Torres, a chamber member and small business owner on 18th Street, said he hopes the organization can bring about a “climate of growth and success” to help entrepreneurs who might not have been able to access aid over the past two years.

“We all felt the damaging effects in the last few years [on] either small businesses or the community as a whole,” Torres said.

At least six neighborhood businesses closed during the first year of the pandemic, leaders previously said.

The chamber was created in partnership with the Pilsen Neighborhood Community Council and the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce after months of being in the works, organizers said.

Jaime di Paulo, president and CEO of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said it’s important to help Hispanic entrepreneurs succeed and scale up because they currently make up a small percentage of Illinois business owners.

“When a business starts succeeding, [they] hire within, local,” he said. “It’s an ecosystem.”

Torres said the chamber is just getting off the ground and beginning to cultivate relationships with the small businesses in and around 18th Street, but he hopes to have a robust membership soon.

Help Block Club Get
500 More Subscribers!

Subscribe to Block Club now and you’ll get a free 16-by-20-inch Chicago neighborhood print of your choice, helping us reach our goal of getting 500 more subscribers before 2024. Click here to subscribe or click here to gift a subscription.

Listen to the Block Club Chicago podcast: