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Another important problem Mathis would like to see addressed by the city is improved public transportation. Darden argued that it would help job seekers, especially young people, without adequate transportation to move around the city more easily. There are not many bus stops close to Aisha’s Southern Cuisine, so it poses a challenge for Mathis’ employees getting to and from work.
“At nighttime sometimes, I feel like an Uber driver driving people off who don’t have transportation,” Mathis said.
To start, however, the AABA will be hosting networking events at different African-American businesses in the coming months for anyone wanting to attend and rub shoulders with fellow local businesspeople. The kickoff event was just the start of those efforts, which the group’s leadership believes can revitalize not only the African-American economy, but the whole city.
“There’s so much economic activity,” Darden said. “How do we bridge that gap and get the citizens of Joliet to benefit from that?”