If you’d like to see the economic effects of our current immigration crackdown, look no further than a Chicago bakery that lost 800 workers to an ICE raid. According to several news reports, Cloverhill Bakery — a Swiss-owned bakery with a branch in Chicago — announced that 35 percent of their workers will have to be replaced after immigration officials conducted a raid there sometime earlier this year.
The company that owns Cloverhill, Aryzta AG, wasn’t specific on when the actual raid took place, but their annual report shows a financial loss during the summer. The bakery, which supplies hamburger buns to McDonald’s, saw a 7 percent decrease in sales as a result of the raid, and according to Aryzta AG CEO Kevin Toland, that will trickle down to higher prices for the consumer.
As the company attempts to stabilize, they are now working to garner a whole new staff and raise their wages. According to a local Chicago news affiliate, all of this has caused the bakery to lose $21 million.
At 10 years old, Anayasin Vazquez, now 60, moved to Little Village, affectionately called La Villita, with her family. The predominantly Mexican neighborhood is only 15 minutes Southwest of the Loop in Chicago, but entering its non-physical borders can feel like a passport is required. Billboard advertisements change from English to Spanish, the skin and hair color of people darkens and the image of La Virgen de Guadalupe can be seen on nearly every block.
Anayasin Vazquez’s memories of her childhood in La Villita are of bustling businesses, like La Chiquita grocery store.
Credit: junf_ga / Instagram
Vasquez recalls families eating at La Justicia, sweet smells emanating from El Nopal bakery and grocery trips to La Chiquita.
“That was a time when I saw Little Village thriving,” she recalls. She moved out of the area at 18 years old, and 20 years passed before she moved back. When she did, the neighborhood had changed.
But, over time, Vasquez saw changes to the community she loves, some of which are positive.
Credit: Google Maps
“Buildings deteriorated, businesses were leaving and it no longer had the vibrancy I remembered,” says Vazquez. “People were negatively affected by these changes. It led to crime. And that’s why I’m excited about Xquina. Because maybe it can help us get back to what Little Village was.”
Vazquez is referring to Xquina Cafe.
Credit: Google Maps
The recently announced hybrid coffee shop and entrepreneurial incubator, expected to fill the empty storefront located at 3534 W. 26th St., in Spring 2019. Jaime di Paulo, former executive director of the local chamber of commerce, now President & CEO of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, spearheaded the project and describes it as a learning center with cultural relevance. In late July, the Mayor’s office announced it was the recipient of a $250,000 Neighborhood Opportunity Grant. Another $350,000 is needed to fully fund the project.
The two-story, 6,000-square-foot building, is described as an eyesore by locals. It sits along the main corridor of the neighborhood’s shopping district, which to date, has lacked any businesses of this kind. The facility, partially owned by the chamber, will be designed as a hub for ideas and business meetings. Expect free wi-fi, classes for entrepreneurs, co-working spaces and private offices.
Di Paulo was aided in his bid by Juan Saldana, associate director of the chamber’s Small Business Development Center. The two brokered a deal with Carlos Halwaji, its initial purchaser, for 25 percent ownership of the building. Halwaji is a chiropractor who has practiced in Little Village for the last 20 years.
The facility shares tech incubator DNA, but will incorporate the neighborhood’s Mexican identity.
Classes will be offered in both English and Spanish; and the coffee operator and second anchor tenant will be carefully scrutinized by select members of the chamber, in order to ensure a shared vision of empowering the people in the area.
“Gentrification is a real issue,” says di Paulo. “We want to be very selective of the vendors we use. New amenities to a community is sometimes confused as gentrification. This isn’t that. We are building something for the people of Little Village.”
It’s not the first time a local organization purchased and built out a physical space in order to better the lives, and preserve the culture, of people in the district. Universidad Popular is a non-profit which provides support services to Latinos. Founded in 1972, the organization offers an array of classes and resources ranging from health and wellness topics, to digital literacy.
Originally located in Lakeview, the organization bounced from Humboldt Park to Pilsen, due to rising rent. In an effort to combat gentrification, the organization purchased a 12,000 square foot banquet hall in Little Village. The renovation costs, estimated at upwards of $1M, almost kept the organization from moving forward with their plans. However, with the help of its working class neighborhood—plumbers, carpenters, housekeepers and electricians—they managed to transform the dilapidated building into a vital part of the community that continues to thrive.
Xquina is the younger sibling to this concept. It’s a place primarily designed for the 33 percent of residents under the age of 35.
“Most people have to leave the neighborhood if they need a quiet place to work or study,” says di Paulo. “We don’t want that, so we’re working to fit the needs and demands of the people. There’s currently nothing like this in Little Village.“
A feasibility study done by the chamber, showed 90 percent of people deemed this initiative important and critical to the area. Especially the free internet. A common asset in the Loop and Northside, but a scarce resource in the neighborhood says Vazquez.
With a clear need and desire for this concept, it can appear as if support was garnered overnight. However, the process began five years ago when di Paulo started his position, and inherited a $50,000 deficit.
Over time, he turned the business around and earned the trust of the people by funneling resources into the neighborhood. Such as the establishment of a small business development center last fall. With that addition to the neighborhood, came Salgado.
The two walked the streets, knocked on doors and got to know residents. Their grassroots efforts led to their small business center being one of the most successful on record. Money allocated for businesses in Little Village reached more than $1M in less than a year.
When the times come, a vendor RFP will be posted where a committee of four to five members from the area will be formed to select the two anchor tenants.
“Hopefully someone from the neighborhood steps up,” says Salgado when asked about the ideal candidate.
This optimism and investment in the community drives the concept. Salgado and di Paulo both speak of this project as a way to combat gentrification and minimize brain drain happening among young people who feel their needs are not being met.
“The idea is, we don’t have all the answers,” says Salgado. “We’re looking to the community to help us. We want to bring in the right people who can help create jobs. We want to be a catalyst for growth.”
And judging by the support for Xquina Cafe, it’s clear Salgado is not the only hopeful one.
Vermont Senator and Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and rapper Cardi B have been teasing their on-screen discussion on issues ranging from police brutality to canceling student debt for a few weeks now. Finally, the Sanders campaign published the video in all its nearly ten minutes of glory.
The two met at Detroit’s TEN nail bar, a deluxe nail salon founded and operated by two women of color. Cardi B came prepared with a list of questions that her own followers have brought up with her. In essence, Cardi B served as a representative of her fans’ political interests and brought them to a Presidential candidate to see if he would be the guy to officially represent their needs in the nation’s most meaningful capacity–as POTUS 2020.
Six weeks ago, Cardi asked her fans what they would want to hear Bernie Sanders discuss.
On July 2, the rapper shared a video to Instagram telling her followers that her number one question to Bernie Sanders is about how to end police brutality in this country. “What would you like to ask? what change would you like to see in your community and in the USA 🇺🇸?” she posted. “2020 is getting very close let’s get familiar with who is running and how they can change the country! Put your questions down below and your questions may be answered very soon.”
Nobody expected she was actually going to sit down with Bernie Sanders and represent the Bardi Gang’s political issues.
Hilariously, Sanders wiggled his fingers alongside Cardi B’s as he told us that, “Cardi B’s nails are juuuust a little different than mine. Our views on the issues are pretty similar.”
Cardi B absolutely nailed it as an interviewer. She steered the conversation and truly represented her followers’ interests. She opened the video to remind everyone that, “A couple of weeks ago, I asked my followers what types of questions would you want to ask a Democratic candidate. Let’s go baby.” Here are the takeaways.
Number one: Cardi and Bernie’s shared goal is getting Trump out of office.
“You know what I’m trying to do is I’m trying to advocate the youth in my community because I feel like there’s a serious problem right now in America,” Cardi opens. “We have this bully as a President and the only way to take him out is somebody winning.”
“We’ve got to get rid of Donald Trump, obviously. Because Donald Trump is an overt racist. He’s just way out there.”
The first question on Cardi’s mind is putting an end to police brutality in America. Bernie has a three-pronged plan.
Cardi B got vulnerable and talked about the mental effects of what it’s like to “constantly see on social media police brutality against black men and against minorities. What are we going to do to change that, because that is discouraging our people? We constantly see our men getting killed every day, and it seems like nobody cares.”
Sanders wants to end the militarization of police departments, which he sees as a form of intimidation.
To address police brutality, he wants the Department of Justice to investigate every police killing to ensure accountability and prevent local police departments from covering up crimes. He also wants to federally obligate police departments to “look like the community they serve” and “not like an oppressive army.” Sanders related to the “disgust” of seeing 1 in 4 young black men in the criminal justice system. His solution to that specific issue is to invest in free education instead of investing in prisons and incarceration.
During his first week as President, Sanders will reinstate the executive order that gave protections to DREAMers, and he wants to extend those protections to their parents.
Cardi had recalled meeting a fan who enrolled for protections under DACA and is now facing deportation back to Mexico–a place that he has no living memory of ever knowing. Bernie wants the 1.8 million young people who qualify for DACA to experience the freedoms of this country. When he said he wants to expand that program to their parents, Cardi did a little jiggle and let out a “Yeahhh!”
Bernie is going to raise taxes to allow free healthcare and education, but it will be cheaper on a day to day for Americans.
“People are afraid to pay more taxes than they’re already paying,” Cardi rightly stated. Bernie’s plan to offer free health care for all will ultimately be cheaper for the overwhelming majority of people than paying for premiums, deductibles, and copayments.
Cardi B will never forget how hard it was to make a living wage before she found fame.
Cardi B brought up how “certain people like to brag” about how there are more jobs in America, but she’s questioning the quality of these jobs. Why are her followers having to work two or three jobs to survive? Bernie wants to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
By placing a modest tax on Wall Street, Sanders plans to cancel student debt.
Forty-five million Americans are living with student debt. Sanders knows that those of us in our 20s and 30s were told that we had to go to college to get a good job. Where the good jobs at? Our generation is far less likely to own homes and make financial progress in our lives. For the first time, our generation is worse off than the generation before it.
Sanders has a message to Cardi B’s followers: “Trump doesn’t want people of color to be participating in the political process.”
“Participate in the political process,” he tells POC. You can spend five minutes to register to vote here.