City Budget Cuts Threaten Chambers of Commerce

By Samantha Abernethy | Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In the recently announced 2011 city budget, Chicago will cut all subsidy funding to chambers of commerce in the city, amounting to millions in savings for the city and a massive hit for the chambers.

The city has subsidized neighborhood chambers of commerce for years. Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Melissa Flynn said Tuesday that city contributions comprise about 30 percent of their annual budget.

This isn’t the first hit the chambers have taken in recent years. Funding decreased by about 11 percent between 2009 and 2010, said Brad Ball, associate director for the Northcenter Chamber of Commerce.

Flynn said the chambers have been prepared for usual budget cuts, but a cut to all city funding could be detrimental. Flynn said it would threaten their ability to help small business start-ups, in turn threatening the health and sustainability of neighborhoods.

“We provide services that, frankly, the city can’t provide,” she said. “We are vital to the community, so we have to figure something out.”

When Mayor Richard Daley announced his plans for the 2011 budget earlier this month, he said they had projected a budget deficit of over $650 million when heading into budget negotiations.

Alderman Gene Schulter gave a statement to Center Square Journal Wednesday saying he supports the continuing funding for the area organizations.

“I was very surprised and upset to hear about this cut in our budget,” Schulter wrote. ” As the recession continues, it is vital that we continue to provide support services for our local small businesses.  I am currently working with my colleagues to ensure that funding is continued for these important community organizations.”

Here is the amount each chamber received from the city in 2010, adding to just under $200,000 cut in the Center Square coverage area.:

  • Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce: $67,798
  • Northcenter Chamber of Commerce: $24,432.00
  • Ravenswood Community Council: $45,198
  • Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce: $61,080

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