December 5, 2011

Mayor Emanuel Announces Initiatives to Support Immigrant Entrepreneurs and Create Jobs Led by Office of New Americans

Announces Adolfo Hernandez as Director of new Office of New Americans

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a series of new initiatives today to expand opportunities for immigrant entrepreneurs and create jobs in communities across Chicago. The efforts will be supported by a newly-created Office of New Americans (ONA) in the Mayor’s Office.

“Chicago is a global economic hub because of generations of immigrants who used their new freedoms and opportunities to make this city stronger and more vibrant,” said Mayor Emanuel. “These initiatives will make Chicago the most immigrant-friendly city in the world.”

The strategy includes initiatives to:

  • Expand immigrant business owner outreach and education events;
  • Provide training to immigrant small business associations to help them better educate their members and access City resources more effectively; and
  • Enhance language capabilities in Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection (BACP) small business workshops

ONA will build on the existing resource fair conducted by BACP, creating temporary one-stop-shops for immigrant business owners. Currently, BACP holds one annual fair in a targeted immigrant community. ONA will work with BACP and relevant stakeholders to ensure that these fairs are quarterly events, each held in a different immigrant business district. Relevant city staff and community partners will be on hand to provide educational information to business owners about navigating the licensing and inspections processes. ONA will work with community organizations to ensure volunteer translators are on hand to provide language access.

Through a workshop at the beginning of every year ONA will “train the trainer” by educating immigrant business associations and immigrant groups on the range of services offered by the City and established chambers of commerce.

Mayor Emanuel also announced Chicago-native Adolfo Hernandez as Director of ONA — an office dedicated to improving access to city services and engaging Chicago’s global immigrant communities through enhanced collaboration with community organizations, educational institutions and the private sector.

“Our city is built on a remarkable diversity of thought and diversity of people; our vibrant culture and economy are buoyed by the constant infusion of new and different ideas,” Mayor Emanuel. “Adolfo has a proven track record and will work to ensure every Chicagoan has access to the resources they need to contribute to this thriving global city.”

As Director of ONA, Hernandez will work to forge partnerships with community organizations, educational institutions and the private sector to:

  • Expand opportunities for immigrant business owners and entrepreneurs;  
  • Enhance coordination between City government and community organizations to increase access to existing city, state and federal programs;
  • Expand immigrant parent engagement throughout Chicago Public Schools by learning from successful models like the Logan Square Neighborhood Associations’ Parent-Mentor program;
  • Establish a centralized language access policy for the City of Chicago that ensures important information about education, public safety, healthcare and City services is transmitted in a culturally competent and effective manner;
  • Expand English language educational resources and opportunities in community settings;
  • Support the launch of the Illinois DREAM Act to ensure Chicago’s students have access to funds to attend to college; and
  • Promote U.S. citizenship by working with community organizations and federal agencies that provide immigration and citizenship services.

About Adolfo Hernandez:

Adolfo Hernandez has more than eight years of experience working in Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods and is dedicated to the health, wellness and quality of life of residents in underserved communities.  Hernandez rose from Community Liaison at the Active Transportation Alliance to be its Director of Advocacy and Outreach, working to create opportunities for community members to engage with the process of improving their neighborhoods and creating healthier living environments. Prior to his work at the Active Transportation Alliance, Hernandez worked with communities, families and children as the Health Coordinator at the McCormick Tribune YMCA. Hernandez has helped build coalitions across community organizations, Chicago’s business community and City agencies to help address needs of Chicago’s neighborhoods and increase access to resources that promote healthy living in underserved communities. Hernandez also served two consecutive terms as the Logan Square Neighborhood Association’s Board President, committed to empowering and maintaining these communities as diverse, safe, and affordable neighborhoods in which to live and work, learn and grow. The son of Mexican immigrants, Mr. Hernandez was born in Chicago and raised in the Little Village/La Villita community.

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