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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A Black business icon, Parker House sausage could soon be up for sale

From the Defender:

If a planned meeting this week between Parker House Sausage Company, Inc. CEO, Maurice McFolling, and officials from the city's Department of Planning and Development does not go well, the Black-owned food manufacturer may be forced to sell the company to a non-Black owner.

“I do not want to sell, but if we have to finance our own relocation, then we would have no choice but to sell,” McFolling told the Defender. “It would be too expensive to build a new facility. I'd rather expand on the property we already own, but we can't because we are landlocked.” McFolling said that if the city wants Parker House's land to use for further housing development along South State Street, then the city should pay to move his company.

“The city did it with Luster Products when they were located downtown on South Michigan Avenue, so they can do the same for us,” he added. Luster Products, Inc. is a Black-owned company now located in the Back of the Yards community, at 1104 W. 43rd St. The city relocated Luster so that housing could go up at the haircare manufacturer's former South Loop location.

But if relocation cannot be worked out for Parker House, McFolling said a sale would be the next best option. And if that were to happen he doubts if the new owner would be Black. “I seriously doubt we would be able to find a Black buyer who has the experience to continue running the businesses and who could afford to purchase it,” McFolling said.

“As far as what the company would fetch for, I couldn't tell you.” He said the company did between $6 and $7 million in sales for 2007. Parker House, a fixture in the Bronzeville community since its inception in 1919, cannot expand its headquarters at 4605 S. State St. because the land is no longer zoned for industrial use, said McFolling.

“We can only use the rest of the land we own for storage so that does us no good,” he said. Parker House is located in Ald. Pat Dowell's Third Ward, and McFolling said he has received little to no help from her. But Dowell said she has not spoken to McFolling about his desire to expand or to relocate. “I would like to talk to him (McFolling) to see what his needs are for the company,” Dowell told the Defender. “But I do know that the city has no intentions on acquiring his property. All eminent domain procedures for the third ward must come through my office, and there has been no such action presented to me.”

I was disappointed when I learned that another black owned business was sold. That business, Chatham Food Center, is no longer black owned. I posted a story about that I also found on the Defender over at The Sixth Ward.

All I can say is that this is business. It may be unfortunate that we may be discussing one or two less black owned firms, but business owners have a right to cash out the fruits of their labor. Black businessmen & women are no different. Hopefully somone else will be able to step up in their place and so be it that they must start a new firm.

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