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updated: 7/8/2011 4:23 PM

West Chicago businesses banding to survive construction

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We Grow Dreams greenhouse in West Chicago is living through a small-business nightmare this summer.

Since road work started on Washington Street, "we've really seen our sales revenues go down," said Laurie Staple, executive director of the nonprofit organization that provides training and jobs for people with disabilities.

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"People are calling and saying, 'we can't get to you,'" she said.

Recognizing the hardship, staff from the city of West Chicago met with several small business owners to brainstorm survival strategies for the construction season.

The result is the Great Summer Construction Sale, a coordinated sale to entice customers to make the extra effort to shop at construction-challenged businesses.

The city is helping businesses by posting the information and a downloadable coupon on its website, westchicago.org, under "business." Coupons also are available at city hall.

Businesses are offering discounts, introductory specials and other deals.

At We Grow Dreams, for example, if you buy two hanging baskets you get one free. The greenhouse also is offering discounts on geraniums, vegetables and annuals.

"We're offering multiple incentives," Staple said.

The federally funded concrete restoration project on Washington Street started March 28. Eastbound lanes are closed with one-way traffic westbound for the first stage of the project.

For the second stage, tentatively scheduled to begin in August, westbound lanes will be closed with one-way traffic going east. The project is scheduled to be completed in October.

The work on Galena Street is a separate project, funded by a DuPage County Community Development Block Grant. The work includes infrastructure and pavement reconstruction and streetscaping.

Businesses participating in the Great Summer Construction sale include Arbor Avenue Antiques, Bob's Salt & Feed, Casa Rios Bridal Boutique, Chihuahua Tire Shop, Dominick's Cucina & Pizzeria, El Coco Loco Mexican Grill, Evalina's Boutique, Fina Boutique, Gloria's Jewelry, Porcayo & Associates Realty, St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Store, Sam's Auto Repair, State Farm Insurance, Tango Argentina Club, We Grow Dreams and West Chicago Printing.

Tango Argentina Club is participating "in solidarity with the other businesses," said owner Marie Carrasco, but draws from such a wide area the road work has had little impact.

"People complain a little bit, but no one has stopped coming because of the construction," she said.

West Chicago also supports The 3/50 Project, a national shop-local campaign that challenges consumers to support three of their favorite local businesses by spending a combined total of $50 a month at them.

"Awareness of the impact small business makes to the local economy through jobs and trickle-down spending, not to mention tax revenue, should motivate local support," said Rosemary Mackey, the city's marketing and communications coordinator.

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