The 2nd Annual SECC Symposium



South East Chicago Commission (SECC) will host the 2nd annual regional economic development symposium that aligns thinking and action to strengthen the business districts in Chicago’s Southeast lakefront neighborhoods.

The SECC Symposium will convene entrepreneurs, business executives, property owners, investors, financial institutions, policy leaders and practitioners as a diverse, cross-sector community committed to economic vitality.

The SECC’s economic development symposium was held virtually on Saturday, October 10, 2020 from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm using a dynamic, interactive platform.  Before, during and after the Symposium, we invite you to share your experience in social media #seccsymposium2020

Tickets were FREE with registration. 

2020 Keynote Conversation

Featured Speakers

The Keynote Conversation featured Don Thompson, Founder and CEO of Cleveland Avenue Venture Capital, and Liz Thompson, President of  Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education (CAFÉ). Don and Liz deliberated on the theme “Thriving in a Changing Economic Landscape,” with a topics covering access to capital, brand development, e-commerce, entrepreneurship and our course of action for economic vitality.

Symposium Workshops

Each workshop is approximately 45-minutes long. Each participant will have the access to the live sessions for real-time interactions, replay of any sessions missed, and access to discussion boards for additional info.

(Sponsored by Joyce Foundation, Illinois State Treasurer’s Charitable Trust, and Chicago Community Loan Fund) 

With a changing economic landscape comes new opportunities.  Right now, local artists have a unique chance to build financial security for themselves and their artistic legacy, while also uplifting the spirits of their entire neighborhood and communities. This 60-minute session includes a 20-minute mini lecture by Lesley Martinez, followed by an engaging 40-minute panel discussion with creatives who have leveraged their art as a tool for investing in self, industry and neighborhood capital.  WATCH THE REPLAY


Lesley Martinez, Founder, CNTXTR Digital Media


Sandra Bivens, Executive Director, 51st Street Business Association


Senabella Gill, CAO, Urban Broadcast Media
Maggie Brown, President, The MagPie Legacy Co.
Frayne Lewis, Policy Analyst, Chicago Department of Cultural Events & Special Affairs

Businesses today must have a strong digital presence in order to attract new customers, retain current customers, differentiate themselves from the competition and grow their business.  During this 60-minute session you will learn the steps to building your brand online by leveraging industry best practices, hot trends, and real life examples.  This session was moderated by Jourdan Sorrell.  WATCH THE REPLAY


Natalie Wright, Founder, By Grace Agency

Jonathan McGee, Deputy Director of Regional Economic Development, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity 

In today’s digital world, businesses must have an e-commerce presence or they’re leaving money on the table.  This session was an introduction to e-commerce workshop lead by 37 Oaks University.  Participants received an understanding of why e-commerce is a vital component of business success, the advantages and disadvantages, mistakes and what types of customers shop online.


Terrand Smith, CEO, 37 Oaks 

(Sponsored by Seaway Bank) 

This interactive session, moderated by Lucille Dobbins, focused on how entrepreneurs can secure access to capital, develop a business plan to attract investors and uncover potential pitfalls that could harm their business’ growth!  The panelists provided real world advice and stories of entrepreneurs’ journeys to inspire, motivate and educate.  WATCH THE REPLAY


Lucille Dobbins, Retired banker and former staffer for Mayor Harold Washington


Amanda Askew, Community Leader, Accion
Daryl Newell, President, Seaway Bank
Christyn Freemon, Chief Solutionist, Project Forward
William Goodall, CPA, Goodall Kenner & Associates

Expected Attendance
Business Districts
1 +

Special Thanks To Our Sponsors

SECC is a Neighborhood Business Development Center (NBDC) granted by the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.  As an NBDC delegate agency, SECC provides assistance in the development of small businesses in Chicago, serves as liaison between local businesses and the City of Chicago, and delivers local business development services.