Southland Development Authority Highlights Growth and Success The Southland Development Authority (SDA) is pleased to present a summary of key highlights featured in the verbal reports and presentations shared at recent board and committee meetings.

Program Highlights

During the first half of 2023, the Business Growth Services team initiated several projects to support the over 30,000 small businesses in the region. The second-year BGS Tax Prep program, which aids Southland small businesses in filing current and back taxes to facilitate access to capital and grants, successfully registered nearly 60 businesses. Two-thirds of these businesses were referred to local partners at Ringold Financial for accounting and tax support. Almost 20 companies have had their taxes completed this year through the BGS Tax Prep program, which plays a crucial role in preparing Southland businesses to take advantage of County, State, and Federal grants that require current tax filings to provide funding for COVID-19-impacted operations.

The SDA has also launched the Acquisition Accelerator program, which currently includes four cohort members. With a significant number of baby boomer-owned small businesses lacking a succession plan and over 10,000 retirees per day, the SDA is actively working towards two goals. Firstly, supporting Southland business owners in transitioning to new ownership, and secondly, assisting under-represented entrepreneurs in acquiring Southland businesses. The five cohort members will seek to acquire and expand businesses in the Southland region, with the SDA providing back-office legal, due diligence, and finance support. Each member aims to acquire businesses valued between $500,000 and $20 million within the next 12-18 months.

Southland Tour of SDA Projects

On June 7, Cook County Board of Commissioners President Toni Preckwinkle and local leaders from Cook County and the South Suburbs joined SDA’s Chief Executive Officer, Bo Kemp, on a tour of SDA projects aimed at fostering economic growth in the Southland. The tour included visits to key projects such as Free-N-Deed in Dolton, a grocery store partnership established by the Southland Development Authority in 2021. This initiative has now evolved into a fully free grocery store, providing essential and healthy options for the local community.

Pictured: Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle (left), Free-N-Deed founder and coordinator Dr. Nicole Scott (middle), and SDA CEO Bo Kemp (right).
Staff Updates

The SDA continues to expand its team with the addition of several talented individuals. Notably, Harry Holtz, a Crete native, has joined as the Metals Hub Director, bringing valuable expertise to the organization. Kemdah Stroud, a South Holland native, has been appointed as the Marketing Manager; and Rhonda Dobbs, from Hazel Crest, has taken on the role of Office Manager. Moreover, the SDA has hired two Relationship Managers within the Business Growth Services (BGS) team: Jaime Makuch – a resident of Tinley Park – and Christopher Cooks. Additionally, the SDA has welcomed the former Economic Development Director of the City of Harvey, Nick Greifer, to oversee Municipal Economic Development and support ongoing projects in Hazel Crest, with plans to extend similar assistance to other Southland communities.

Financial Highlights

The SDA is delighted to announce the receipt and execution of a three-year grant from the MacArthur Foundation, totaling $750,000, to bolster community engagement and marketing efforts in the Southland. This significant support will contribute to the SDA’s ongoing initiatives. Furthermore, the SDA has been awarded $50,000 from the Coleman Foundation to support the Acquisition Accelerator program and related entrepreneurial endeavors in the Southland. The SDA expresses gratitude for the generous support of these foundations.

CEO, Southland Development Authority (SDA)

Mr. Kemp, appointed as the CEO of the SDA in 2021, has achieved remarkable accomplishments. With his expertise, he has successfully assisted 10,000 businesses, provided consultations for 1,000 businesses, secured $10 million in grants for local enterprises, facilitated investments in affordable housing, and spearheaded industry sector programs in food production and manufacturing.