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Emanuel Sets Up Program To Help Immigrant Business Owners

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Mayor Rahm Emanuel met with immigrant small business owners Thursday at a restaurant in the Little Village neighborhood, where he announced a public-private partnership to help small business growth in immigrant communities.

As WBBM Newsradio's Mike Krauser reports, Mayor Emanuel says Chicago has a tradition of welcoming immigrants, "and I'm going to keep that tradition and fight for that tradition, so if people are coming from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Pakistan, Morocco – wherever they're coming from – Vietnam, Cambodia – they know Chicago has a welcome mat, and I think the other states – and this, I want to underscore three times – they are hurting their economic competitiveness."

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Mike Krauser reports


Emanuel announced plans for the New Americans Small Business Series – a program of quarterly events to foster small business growth in the city's immigrant communities. The program will be funded by a $30,000 grant from Western Union.

The program, administered by the city's Office of New Americans and Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, will create temporary one-stop neighborhood locations where current or potential business owners can learn about starting small businesses, the licensing process, tax laws, and chambers of commerce.

Small startup businesses, the mayor says, are the lifeblood of the economy, and 30 percent are run by new immigrants.

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said he just came back from the South.

"There's such a hostility towards our immigrant community, so it's good to come back to Chicago," he said.

Mayor Emanuel said Little Village, centered on West 26th Street, ought to be called Two Magnificent Miles. He points out it is second only to the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue in sales tax generation in Chicago.

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