Watch CBS News

With Struggles Amid Pandemic, Uptown Strong Initiative Takes On Multiple Efforts To Keep Businesses Afloat And Robust

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Many businesses in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood have had to pivot and pivot again during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new campaign has now been launched in an effort to get attention for companies facing unprecedented challenges.

Uptown, of course, is a historic and diverse neighborhood on Chicago's North Side. But like any neighborhood, it is facing its own unique set of problems.

The organization Uptown United just launched a major campaign to help struggling businesses. Executive director Sarah Wilson joined us Friday afternoon to talk about the Uptown Strong initiative.

Wilson said businesses in Uptown were hit hard by the pandemic.

"Businesses really struggled. They had to learn how to adapt in unprecedented times," she said. "But throughout it all, they really showed their resiliency – and through this Uptown Strong campaign, we really highlight how they were able to pivot their business models to get people more involved; back into their storefronts, into their restaurants, and taking care of themselves as well as the local business community."

Uptown Strong has posted five videos focusing on neighborhood businesses and organizations and how they pulled through. The businesses include the human rights organization Apna Ghar, the nonprofit Care for Real, Hearthstone & Terrace Furniture and Plant Store, Mind Body Defense, and the Baton Show Lounge.

Also part of the initiative is a 60-page food guide that highlights Uptown restaurants and is being distributed all around the neighborhood, a jobs module on the Uptown Chamber website for both employers and job seekers, and production and marketing support for the annual Winter Walk on Wilson event.

"One of the things that really came out of the pandemic is our neighbors really supporting our business community and vice versa," Wilson said.

CBS 2's Jim Williams asked Wilson if there was any idea how many customers come to Uptown to do business from outside the community.

"I can't put a pinpoint on a number. I will say that during our Uptown Art Week last year, we had over 1,200 people come and participate in our art fair, and several thousand were likely roaming the streets and going in and out of our businesses safely," Wilson said, "So it's hard to say, but the future is bright, and it's vibrant, and we're very excited to bring more public activities to the public in the next few months or so."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.