On Wednesday, April 3, Next Street was joined by dozens of our partners and supporters for a breakfast reception in Chicago to celebrate the impact we’ve had together during the past three years and to talk about how Next Street will help fuel the small business revolution.
Next Street Partner Charisse Conanan Johnson kicked off the breakfast by sharing Next Street’s history, including our founding mission to revolutionize how advice and finance were provided to small and medium businesses. She talked about our expansion to Chicago in 2016 and how we have been able to broaden the impact of our work through a network of partners committed to inclusive growth.
“Back in 2016, we wanted to address the reality of Chicago being a ‘tale of two cities’ – one with close-knit communities and strong institutions to support their growth, and at the same time, one where these same communities experience segregation and inequity,” said Charisse. “Now in 2019, while we’ve worked with many of our partners to address this tale, we know that there is still more work to do together.”
Our CEO, Marina Linhart, introduced the audience to our new mission, and our renewed commitment to small businesses: “Over the next 3-5 years, our goal is to cement our leading role in the industry as a thought leader and advisor of choice, and to drive large scale impact for small business.” She shared with the room the importance of our mission to revolutionize how our clients provide capital, customers, and services to small business to create a more inclusive economy.
”It’s rare for an organization to have both the knowledge of the financial sector and capital markets, and have a true commitment to issues of equity, diversity, and breaking down structural racism – Next Street bridges that divide.Michael Strautmanis, Obama Foundation
Next Street leadership was joined at the front of the room by two close partners in Chicago – Michael Strautmanis of the Obama Foundation, and Brad McConnell of Accion Chicago. Mr. McConnell helped make the case for small businesses as the drivers of economic growth. He also shared some of the ambitious plans coming out of the recent Chicago SMB Ecosystem Assessment Report, a report and action plan authored by Next Street and CRF USA.
Mr. Strautmanis stressed the need for equitable development in America’s cities, and talked about Next Street’s leadership in driving those efforts in Chicago. “It’s rare for an organization to have both the knowledge of the financial sector and capital markets, and have a true commitment to issues of equity, diversity, and breaking down structural racism – Next Street bridges that divide,” said Mr. Strautmanis.
This breakfast brought together leaders who care about building a better future for small business in Chicago and across the country. We honored the strength our network and continued to establish partnerships to help us drive growth for small business.