The Division Street Business Development Association is a key organization on Paseo Boricua, which offers a number of services to local businesses and community residents alike. At the Paseo Boricua Business Center (2459 W. Division Street), La Voz had the chance to catch up with the extremely busy Executive Director of DSBDA, Eduardo Arocho. Arocho previously served in this capacity between 1999 and 2000, and has many years of experience in economic and community development. He is a proud graduate of Roberto Clemente High School and has a Master of Science Degree in Nonprofit Management from Spertus College.
La Voz: What are some of the new developments at the Paseo Boricua Business Center?
Arocho: We have a new tenant, West Town Bikes, which is a non-profit organization that will be opening a bicycle shop called Ciclo Urbano. This bike shop will be a bike repair and bike cleaning place, as well as a store to sell bikes. They will be leasing the west half of the business center. This means that DSBDA’s new entrance will be on Division Street, more towards the east side of the building. We still have four other small business tenants here, including DSBDA. We also still have our conference room, where we will be hosting our General Business meeting starting in mid May.
Ciclo Urbano will be having a Grand Opening of the bike shop on May 1st at 5:00PM; DSBDA invites the entire community to come tour the new shop. They will also offer workshops to local residents, especially youth, to learn how to construct their own bikes. Bike riding is a very healthy activity and it would be a great resource to everyone in this community.
La Voz: What are some of the new projects and ideas that you have in store for Paseo Boricua?
Arocho: I’ve been having discussions with State Senator William Delgado about some ideas that have been floating for a while. We are interested in initiating a project to help increase the visibility of the Paseo Boricua Entertainment/Cultural District. In particular, we would like to hire a dozen or so music bands that we could arrange to play at the different restaurants on Paseo Boricua. Coupled with that, we are planning to launch a large-scale marketing campaign that will include a Food and Get Around Guide and a new Paseo Boricua Business Directory. One of my major goals is to solidify Paseo Boricua as a tourist attraction for Chicago residents and visitors to the city.
We have also been working with our State Representative Cynthia Soto to promote and expand our Guided Tour Program. I have been conducting walking tours of Paseo Boricua for about 14 years. DSBDA gives tours to over 1000 people per year. We want to expand this program with several new packages, including a Restaurant Food Tour where people will be able to taste cuisine from the various restaurants on Paseo Boricua while learning about the history of the food and the community.
La Voz: What are some of the visions that you have for the future of Paseo Boricua?
Arocho: I have been working with other partners on a concept for an Arts Building on Paseo Boricua to provide Puerto Rican/Latino artists with a living space/workspace that they would be able to own. We are looking at the former site of Ashland Sausage. The plan is to transform it into an arts center where people could visit the artists’ galleries, which would increase the cultural viability and street traffic of Paseo Boricua. It will surely complement the Institute for Puerto Rican Arts and Culture (IPRAC), which will be opening this summer in Humboldt Park.
One big plan currently under discussion with Rebaño Church is to create a multi-level parking facility that would add quite a bit of parking space for visitors to Paseo Boricua. Parking has always been a concern for the businesses here. In addition to being a multi-level parking facility, it will also house Rebaño’s Youth Center. All of these potential projects would be a great stimulus for Paseo Boricua and will continue the renaissance of Humboldt Park for many years to come.
La Voz: A number of Paseo Boricua Businesses have DSBDA stickers on their windows. Does this mean they are DSBDA members?
Arocho: Yes. We ask for an annual donation of $240.00 for DSBDA membership, which goes towards paying our Paseo Boricua street cleaner and some of the beautification projects we have on the street.
La Voz: Is there anything else you want to say or add?
Arocho: Yes, many people are wondering about Enrique Salgado. He is currently enrolled in a Masters Program in the State of New Hampshire and I want to thank him for his years of service and wish him luck in his pursuit of a higher degree.
For more information on DSBDA, please call 773-784-0454. If you are interested in opening up a business on Paseo Boricua, please contact Eduardo Arocho. Look out for the DSBDA website in May 2009.[/lang_en]