Our mission is the economic, social development and growth of “Paseo Boricua”, the heart of the Puerto Rican community in Chicago along Division Street west of Western Ave. In addition, we work to increase the capacity of individuals in the field of business and commerce who seek to enhance their participation in the economic structure of our community and the City of Chicago.
Our motto of “Development without Displacement” focuses on bringing new businesses and jobs that help to add to the evolving continuity of Paseo Boricua while introducing businesses that have been here for decades to a new generation.
Our guided tours are showcased on the homepage and our photo gallery gives you a colorful look at many of our annual events. We hope that these images and descriptions will make it very clear why you should visit Paseo Boricua!
DSBDA services help individuals navigate and apply for programs such as the Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) and business loan programs. Our Fast Trac to Business Planning classes for new entrepreneurs and existing businesses has helped to establish 8 new business in the past four years on Paseo Boricua.
I am a second generation Puerto Rican who was born and raised in Humboldt Park. I grew up watching this neighborhood evolve from one with sparse resources and City services into a community filled with thriving cultural institutions and continuous business development.
In 1995, the Paseo Boricua Gateway flags were inaugurated to usher in a period of economic growth without displacement. It is evident that our hard work and years of planning have yielded the results that have made Paseo Boricua a model for other ethnic commercial corridors.
Since 2000, the number of Puerto Rican Restaurants has grown from 3 to 10 delicious venues, and we look forward to doubling that number in the next decade, making the Paseo an internationally renown center for Puerto Rican cuisine. My goal is to grow the existing small businesses and market the universal appeal of the Puerto Rican culture for all to enjoy.
With the recent opening of the new Institute for Puerto Rican Arts & Culture (IPRAC), we now have the only Puerto Rican art and history museum in the United States. IPRAC serves as yet another anchor that is drawing visitors from around the country to our neighborhood. With all its unique offerings Paseo Boricua is truly a treasure amongst Chicago neighborhoods.
Working together, we can make Paseo Boricua as vibrant a commercial strip as Chicago’s other ethnic centers such as Chinatown, Little Village, Devon Avenue, and Greek Town. To sum it up, the work of DSBDA is about business but it’s also a labor of love.
Eduardo Arocho, M.S.
Nearly 30 years ago...
...the Division Street Business Development Association was founded by a group of local business owner who envisioned an organization that could serve as a center of support and growth for locally owned businesses.
In the late 1980s, the neighborhood was quickly losing ground to high-end development. In the midst of rapid neighborhood change, the DSBDA board members focused on the issue of gentrification in Humboldt Park, in order to preserve the character of the community. Facing rising gentrification of our community, the Association sought to put in place policies and attract investments whereby residents would be able to afford to stay, buy homes, and maintain generations of business and cultural ventures.
In 1991, a portion of Division Street was given the name “Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Street,” in honor of an articulate and vocal advocate of Puerto Rican independence. The naming stirred both controversy and community dialogue, resulting in the emergence of a new vision: to make Division Street a permanent Puerto Rican cultural area with restaurants, arts and entertainment venues. In 1993, a community summit was convened in order to map out a plan to anchor the community. By 1995, local elected officials, along with DSBDA and other community leaders, persuaded the City of Chicago to fund a large-scale, innovative work of art to distinguish the community.
The project resulted in the installation of two giant, sculpted Puerto Rican flags. Fashioned of painted steel, each flag weights 45 tons, and marks the center of the community.
The expanse of Division Street between these two landmarks is officially named “Paseo Boricua.” The giant Gateway flags mark an area which has been the scene of historic struggles of the Puerto Rican people, from parades to riots, from protest marches to fiestas, carnivals, conferences and arts festivals.
The symbolism of the flags, and the cultural pride they inspire, has strengthened the determination of DSBDA and the Paseo Boricua neighborhood to preserve its rich heritage and to continue developing as a community of self-determination, resourcefulness, and social capital. Since 1995, the DSBDA has actively sought to raise the visibility of the local community and business market, establishing a “brand presence” for the Paseo Boricua cultural enclave.
DSBDA has taken several concrete steps to modernize the local infrastructure in order to attract new ventures and improve the established businesses. For instance:
- DSBDA has helped to create and maintain the Paseo Boricua Business Center, a small business “incubator.” Launched in 2005, the Business Center has aided numerous start-ups. Its newest member, “Ciclo Urbano,” a bicycle sales and repair shop, has been so successful that it is now expanding, with help from DSBDA.
- DSBDA is helping the Paseo to go green. Leading the way by adding solar panels in 2013. DSBDA will be assisting businesses in identifying similar improvements and finding the best ways to finance them.
- The DSBDA, a not-for-profit organization, is one of the City of Chicago’s Delegate Agencies. This makes us the local point of contact for local businesses interested in accessing city programs and services. Today our community now boasts 10 Puerto Rican-owned restaurants, with more on the way. We have helped to support the new Institute for Puerto Rican Arts & Culture, located in the beautifully restored Humboldt Park Horse Stables. Paseo Boricua is positioned to grow further in the next decade as we aim to expand new developments that will ensure the stability and longevity of the Puerto Rican community in Chicago.
President & Treasurer
Jose Luis Rodriguez, Executive Director of Greater Humboldt Park Community of Wellness & President of West Town Bikes
Michael Rodriguez, Brown University
Jaime Cruz, Owner of Latin American Restaurant
Eduardo Arocho M.S., Human Services Administration/Non-profit Management (Non-voting Member)