Joe Biden addresses Urban League Conference

July 31, 2009 3:07:06 PM PDT
One day after attending the beer summit at the White House, Vice President Joe Biden visited Chicago Friday to speak at the National Urban League Conference.The vice president lightheartedly thanked Mayor Daley for a passport to the city, but there was no mention about the beer summit Thursday. Instead, it was down to business and what to do to save jobs and businesses through this recession.

Speaking on the second day of the conference, Biden addressed concerns about improving economic conditions.

"We can't succeed unless the urban areas succeed, and like you, we're doing everything we can to lead them into the future," Biden said.

The vice president announced work to find ways to make it easier for those struggling to get information about stimulus assistance.

"Over the next 90 days, agencies across the entire government will conduct workshops for small businesses, women, minorities and veterans about how they can better get information," Biden said.

"People don't quite yet feel the stimulus money impacting their day-to-day lives, and that's the challenge to get this going as quickly as possible," Chicago Urban League President and CEO Cheryle Jackson said.

For much of the address, Biden heralded help that has already come to Americans from the stimulus package, including a Chicago business owner.

"There's a salon owner, Kim Shackelford. Through the act, she saved $2,700 in fees and secured a $150,000 loan," Biden said.

ABC7 found Kim Shackelford at her salon in the West Loop, and she was thrilled about the mention from the vice president.

"It's awesome," Shackelford said. "I just wanted to hug him or touch him or something. I wanted Obama to come, too."

She opened Asili Chi Salon and Spa last October, a tough time to open a business, and much of her capital was used up when city permitting delayed the opening for four months.

"We were running around town just trying to figure out how to keep the doors open, pay the bills, keep everything going," Shackelford said.

Shackelford got a loan through the Small Business Administration, specifically from the stimulus package, that was designed to assist businesses survive the recession.

She says it was difficult to find, but recommends business owners stay vigilant if they need help. "Talk to anybody and everybody and believe in yourself," Shackelford advised.

By keeping her business open, Shackelford kept 20 people working.

The vice president and local leaders hope making stimulus information more accessible will protect more small businesses and the people they employ.

For more on this year's conference and job fair, please visit the following Web sites:

National Conference link: www.nul.org/2009conference

Chicago Urban League: http://www.thechicagourbanleague.org


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