This Small Business Month, Chicago’s Black entrepreneurs and owners have every reason to be optimistic. By and large, we’ve weathered the storm of the pandemic, leaning into technology and reimagining our business models. Today, many of us are thriving once again.
The story of my Black-and women-owned boutique in the Stony Island Park neighborhood mirrors those of so many local businesses. I built my retail shop with the support of women from my community who gathered regularly inside my storefront until it was no longer safe to do so. Twenty years ago, the pandemic would’ve been the end of my story.
SEND LETTERS TO: email@example.com. We want to hear from our readers. To be considered for publication, letters must include your full name, your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes. Letters should be a maximum of approximately 375 words.
But thanks to tremendous innovations in technology, I had easy and affordable access to tools and resources to transition my business onto the “Digital Main Street.” I leaned heavily into e-commerce and launched an online group to connect with the community of women who had become central to my business. This digital community quickly became a vital sounding board, helping me quickly tap into emerging pandemic trends like leisurewear, face coverings and Zoom meeting attire.
The role America’s technology platforms played in my survival cannot be understated. Without the real-time access to turnkey technology and e-commerce platforms, my business, and others like it, would not have survived.
And it certainly wouldn’t be thriving like it is. Just last year, we closed on a property adjacent to our storefront to accommodate our expanding e-commerce operations and sustain local jobs.
Unfortunately, some of the tools and resources that enabled us to adapt to pandemic-era changes are under threat as Congress considers legislation to regulate America’s technology companies.
Some proposals would create a different set of rules for online businesses and marketplaces, making it harder than ever to start, run and grow a small business. These policies would come at the expense of both consumers and small businesses who count on tech platforms to operate in this digital economy.
I hope our policymakers carefully consider the potential unintended consequences of technology industry regulation for our small business community, which has already been through enough.
Melanie Whaley, Stony Island
Legislation to improve early detection of cancer needs support
As a two-time cancer survivor, I know first-hand the importance of diagnosing cancer at its earliest stages. But many cancers lack screening tests, leading them to be detected at later stages when there may be fewer treatment options depending on the type of cancer.
Thanks to innovative new technology, companies are rolling out new blood tests that can detect multiple cancers earlier., which could improve treatment options and save lives. Once these tests are FDA-approved and clinical benefits are shown, it’s critical to give Medicare the authority to decide to cover these tests.
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network supports H.R. 2407, the Nancy Gardner Sewell Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act, to create a pathway for Medicare coverage of these tests.
I’m calling on Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky to support these efforts.
We know the risk of cancer increases with age. People with Medicare coverage comprise a majority of the roughly 75,000 people in Illinois who will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Another 23,000 in our state will die from this dreaded disease. Many of these deaths could be prevented with early detection.
Kathy C. Bingham, Chicago