Bronzeville Creates A New Economic Promise For 2016

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Bronzeville promises that Chicago will still be the place to visit in 2016. Cultural heritage travelers will be offered a yearlong calendar of events in celebration of the Great Migration Centennial with a showcase of Jazz, Blues, Gospel and Hip Hop music.

“Restoring both the cultural and economic heritage of Chicago’s legendary Black Metropolis is our shared social mission,” says Paula Robinson, President of the Bronzeville Community Development Partnership

The Bronzeville Community Development Partnership announced the next phase of its comprehensive heritage tourism development plan today, designed to ready the area as a choice destination for cultural travelers by 2016. The campaign entitled “Creating the New Promise” includes four key components, beginning with efforts to secure a congressional designation for the Black Metropolis National Heritage Area. The group also plans to develop a new facility, the Urban Innovation Center, to promote social enterprise and broader community engagement. Bronzeville’s geographic area has been mapped by major venues, historic sites and visitor attractions into Sustainable Heritage Entertainment Zones geared toward the revitalization of its commercial districts. The 2016 benchmark is a yearlong celebration of the major entertainment events, cultural activities, educational programs and promotional travel packages that commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the Great Migration.

“Restoring both the cultural and economic heritage of Chicago’s legendary Black Metropolis is our shared social mission,” says Paula Robinson, President of the BCDP. “Our communities are fortunate to have the time and talents of civic entrepreneurs that have invested countless service hours over two decades in order to realize this vision.” Robinson is also the Illinois Advisor for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The community subscribes to the Trust’s established principles of heritage tourism and has received numerous awards for historic preservation. “We have demonstrated that preservation provides affordable housing and business locations that employ residents, while supporting our sustainability commitment to green village building,” she adds.     

The Black Metropolis National Heritage Area Commission, a private non-profit corporation, already meets the requirements to call itself a NHA, however, securing the official congressional destination would make the area eligible to attract up to $1 million dollars a year in matching federal funds for 10 -15 years. Alderman Pat Dowell has put in a request with the city’s Community Development Department to utilize TIF funds to have consultants complete the required feasibility study for the Department of the Interior. A GIS (geographic index survey) map of the area, developed in collaboration with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and the Quad Community Development Corporation (QCDC), identifies that more than half of the city’s historic assets and landmarked sites are located within the NHA.

The Great Migration Centennial Commission (SJR0067) was approved by both houses of the Illinois General Assembly on March 17, 2010, sponsored by State Senator Mattie Hunter and State Representative Ken Dunkin. It recognizes the 100 year anniversary of the largest migration to ever occur in North America. The commission is co-chaired by Governor Pat Quinn and Mayor Richard Daley, and continues to extend an international invitation to visit Chicago in 2016. The Commission will include twenty five appointed members for the executive board, a nominated honorary board, and the Black Metropolis National Heritage Area Commission will be recognized as the Council of Advisors in planning the commemorative celebration.

The Great Migration Centennial 1916-2016 will feature Chicago’s cultural organizations, showcasing the Centennial theme with major exhibit programs and an unprecedented series of Homecoming Tribute Concerts by native Chicago artists. The Mayor’s Office of Special Events will pay tribute to the Centennial during the 2016 Blues Fest, Jazz Fest, Gospel Fest, Dance Chicago and other annual cultural offerings. The Centennial will also be marked by University partners hosting international educational symposiums, conferences and germane curriculum offerings. Neighborhood development plans have identified a series “Legacy Projects” that will continue to preserve the built environment and provide unique interpretative experiences. The most ambitious project is a Neighborhood Information Network called Bronzeville Commons with a goal of utilizing digital media for global engagement and the transparent creation of “a New Promise.” The network is being designed to provide real-time interactive communication via the Internet for all aspects of Bronzeville’s destination development over the next six years.

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