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Chicago, Sept. 14, 2023 — The South East Chicago Commission (SECC) announced its Southside Connection Symposium, presented by The Allstate Foundation, will be held on Saturday, October 14, 2023 at The DuSable Museum of African American History and Education Center in Chicago’s Washington Park neighborhood.

The 5th annual regional economic development symposium represents a visionary collaboration keenly focused on empowering entrepreneurs, fortifying startups, ensuring long-term sustainability, and equipping businesses for scalable growth in the Southeast Chicago region. More than 300 small business owners, economic development professionals, and civic leaders will convene to learn best practices and strategies to grow, scale, and sustain their companies.

NBC5 Chicago News Anchor & Reporter, Evrod Cassimy will moderate this year’s candid keynote conversation, Pathways to a Multi-Million Dollar Business, with Kimberly Lewis, CEO and Co-Founder of CurlMix, and Marc Brooks, President and CEO of Hyde Park Hospitality.

“SECC is committed to civic leadership and growing the regional economy in Chicago’s Southeast lakefront communities,” said Diane Burnham, SECC Executive Director. “We are creating new pathways that reinforce the importance of small business growth to sustain our neighborhoods, business corridors and communities.”

Following the keynote, the executive leadership panel moderated by Kenya Merritt, Deputy Mayor, City of Chicago will present “Fundamentals Needed to Scale Your Business,” focused on access to capital and essential resources for small businesses to succeed. This engaging panel offers insights from Daryl Newell, SVP, Community Development Banking Market Manager, PNC Bank, Terrand Smith, Founder and CEO, 37 Oaks and Dr. C. Adam Callery, Managing Director, Sagesse Lumier.

“As we gather at this year’s symposium, we are committed to empowering entrepreneurs and small businesses for scalable growth in the Southeast Chicago region. With major infrastructure projects, tourism, and new investments on the horizon, we see unprecedented opportunities ahead,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “The conversations and dialogues throughout the symposium will provide invaluable insights, and we extend our gratitude to the sponsors for their support in shaping the future of small business growth in Cook County.”

The 2023 SECC Southside Connection Symposium is sponsored by The Allstate Foundation, Comcast NBC Universal, Charity & Associates, CEI Media Group, Cleveland Avenue, The Study Hotel, ComEd, Self-Help Federal Credit Union, and The Sophy Hotel.

Online registration is required to secure a complimentary seat.

For more information,


About South East Chicago Commission (SECC)

SECC facilitates and supports economic development within Chicago’s Southeast lakefront communities including Kenwood, Hyde Park, Oakland, Washington Park and Woodlawn. SECC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization fostering collaboration among businesses, organizations and anchor institutions to promote job creation, community investment and economic vitality.