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By Mike Sandrolini
MAYWOOD | For over a year, the Chatman Lewis Flaggs Group—a progressive and innovative consulting firm focusing on economic growth initiatives based in Oakbrook Terrace and Washington D.C.—has been implementing EGI, or the Economic Growth Initiative, in Maywood.
EGI is a five-point plan for economic development which revolves around creating jobs, decreasing crime, increasing per-capita income, implementing programs for youths and seniors, and improving the aesthetic landscape of the village. Maywood is one of four communities across the country in which EGI is being implemented.
EGI has released the results of a comprehensive survey taken in the village of Maywood, titled “How We Can Improve Maywood.”
Bridgette Chatman Lewis, a Maywood native who’s with Chatman Lewis Flagg, was involved in conducting the survey. She pointed out that the survey sampled 268 residents last October throughout the four zones in Maywood. Maywood residents volunteered to go door-to-door to make contact with residents and conduct phone interviews.
The information was carefully gathered, analyzed and tabulated by a third party, she said. Those 268 people responded to 10 questions, and many took the time to provide additional input in the “comments” section of the survey.
“It was very fair and objective,” Chatman Lewis said. “We gave residents the forms that they filled out and we gave it (their completed surveys) directly to the third party for tabulation.”
The survey’s respondents were 62 percent female and 38 percent male. Maywood’s residents are 90 percent African-American, 6 percent Hispanic, 3 percent white and 1 percent Hispanic/African-American. The village is a majority Christian faith-based community with 65 churches in Maywood.
“There’s a lot of foundational support as it relates to familiarity, kinship, friendship and so on, which all leads to community pride and emotional support,” she said.
Maywood also is a stable community, according to survey findings. Approximately 70 residents surveyed said they have lived in Maywood between 40 and 60 years, 61 respondents said between 20 and 40 years, 50 said 20 years and 28 said 60 years or over. Meanwhile, 74 percent of those surveyed said they own homes while 26 percent do not own homes, but rent.
Some of the findings in the survey that Chatman Lewis said are both surprising and significant were in regard to income levels and income breakdown in the village. Approximately 64 percent of the respondents had incomes between $30,000 and $200,000, which, she said are on par with statistics outside the survey.
The survey report stated that in 2011, the village’s unemployment rate was 19.1 percent. However, this rate has noticeably improved. Currently, the village’s unemployment rate is 8.1 percent (versus 4.7 percent nationally), and the per-capita income has risen 15 percent since 2010 to approximately $20,100 on average.
The total median household income is $42,298, and Maywood’s average income is well above the poverty line. The total combined aggregate income of Maywood is slightly in excess of $404 million, according to the report.
“We asked people (in the survey) if they were looking for employment, and approximately 90 percent said no. they had employment,” Chatman Lewis said, “so that was a very tell-tale that the economics in town as far as per-capita income had risen to the point with most people who took the survey were employed. So that was very interesting.”
The 10 questions that were asked in the survey are as follows:
- Level of satisfaction with the current state of the village: 32 percent are somewhat satisfied, 28 percent dissatisfied, 23 percent very dissatisfied, 12 percent satisfied and 5 percent very satisfied.
- What is Maywood’s greatest challenge? The results indicate that people think education and jobs are the most challenging, followed by housing, shopping and parks/recreation/entertainment.
- How would you rate the service of village hall? Approximately 36 percent said somewhat satisfied, 25 percent dissatisfied, 20 percent very dissatisfied, 16 percent satisfied and 3 percent very satisfied.
- How frequently do you shop in Maywood? 32 percent said 3 to 5 times per month; 28 percent said 1 to 2 times per month; 24 percent said never; and 16 percent said once in the past 2 to 3 months.
- Are businesses in Maywood friendly and relevant? 51 percent said yes, and 49 percent said no. The survey noted that renters had a significantly higher rate of “yes” responses (65.4 percent) compared to residents who own homes (44.6 percent).
- Would you be interested in joining a block club? 64 percent of those surveyed indicated they would be interested in joining a block club, while 37 percent said they would not. As a result of this response to block clubs, EGI has begun to solicit and form block clubs throughout the community
- What should be the top economic priorities of Maywood? The results indicate people think that jobs/business/manufacturing are of the utmost priority, while grocery stores are of secondary importance, followed by restaurants and arts and humanities.
- Would you support a quality grocer in Maywood? 98 percent said yes. When asked which grocers they would support, respondents were given a list of area quality grocers and ranked the grocers in terms of their preference. Those were 1. Pete’s Fresh Market, 2. Mariano’s, 3. Jewel, 4.Ultra Foods, 5. Whole Foods, 6. Trader Joe’s. Approximately 85 percent of the respondents said Pete’s Fresh Mart and Mariano’s while 15 percent split between the four remaining stores listed above.
- Are you aware of the historical significance of Maywood? 45 percent said yes, 34 percent said somewhat and 21 percent said no.
- Do you feel nonresidents would be open to visit, shop or reside in Maywood? 57 percent said nonresidents would not be open, while 43 percent said nonresidents would be open.
Chatman Lewis said with regard to Question 8, she stressed that this question, like all the others in this survey, was asked in October, 2016—or well before Aldi’s closed in Maywood in December.
“They (respondents) were not interested in small grocery stores,” she said. “It’s ironic because most of the people said they didn’t shop there (at Aldi’s at the time the survey was taken) and that Aldi’s closed in December. I think the point of that was that they (meaning the village) were getting it wrong in regards to what people want. They’re putting things there (in Maywood) that they think they (residents) want, but they’re not asking them what they want, and for those reasons, they’re not supported to any great extent.
“So when we go out and we solicit businesses, consumer trends, the area and what consumers want, we make sure that the businesses that they want will be there because it’s going to take more support than from the town (itself). You’ve got to put things there (in Maywood) that Forest Park might want to participate in or River Forest or other surrounding areas.”
THE SQUARE PROJECT
One of the key findings in the survey report stated that “Maywood is prime for economic growth.”
A major highlight of EGI’s economic development for Maywood is called The Square Project. Chatman Lewis said The Square Project will bring new small businesses into the village.
“We have solicited businesses,” she said, adding that the Chatman Lewis Flaggs Group has partnered with equity investors.
“Equity investors are funding this project,” she said. “It’s going to be quite amazing. Our finances have been approved. They (the equity investors) do this for a living, and that was one of the reasons that this particular partnership is a great fit for this community.”
Chatman Lewis said the phases for the project have been approved.
“We are going to wait to meet with the new Village Board and Mayor (Edwenna) Perkins just to let them know and make them aware of what’s going in (to the square),” she said.
Chatman Lewis lauded the support that Perkins has given EGI.
“The mayor has always been very supportive of the initiatives because she understands the progression and what needs to be changed in town,” Chatman Lewis said. “It’s very good to see, and I’m hoping that they will support the growth initiatives that are planned.
“It’s been very, very enlightening. The results of the survey were very telling because you can do research all day long and think you know the fiber (of the community). For example, I’m from the community (originally) but I had no idea of several aspects that came back from the survey and our research prior to it. It really pays to do the due diligence and understand what the people want; then you put it there and you make sure you have cross participation (from surrounding communities) and you have a thriving community.”
The complete survey can be found online at: http://chatmanlewisflaggs.com