University of Illinois at Chicago Office of Public Affairs (MC 288)
601 S. Morgan St., Chicago, IL 60607-7113, (312) 996-3456,

November 10, 1999 Contact: Jeffron Boynes (312)413-8702,


Al Johnson, a driving force in urban entrepreneurship development for many decades, has been named "Man of the Millennium" by the University of Illinois at Chicago's Center for Urban Business.

Johnson never forgot the many people who helped him become the first African-American General Motors dealer in the country in 1967, and establish a lucrative automotive dealership - Al Johnson Cadillac, said Crendalyn McMath, director of the Center for Urban Business.

"We are bestowing this honor upon Al Johnson, because we feel he embodies the principles of urban entrepreneurship and the spirit of CUB," McMath notes. "Through partnering with the community, he built a thriving enterprise which created jobs and provided quality products and services. And he continues to help build the next generation of legendary entrepreneurs."

Johnson recalls how back in the late 1960s, he often questioned whether an African-American "unknown" could prosper in the car business. Over the years, his success has erased all doubt.

"I learned that, if you reach out and work with the community, they will reward you with their confidence and support," says Johnson, who currently serves as chairperson emeritus for CUB. "The community will send you more customers and provide you with great ideas on how to meet their wants and needs, and how to improve your business. Truthfully, what I have received - including this 'Man of the Millennium' honor from CUB - I owe it to the people of Chicago."

At its 1999 Recognition Reception (Dec. 3, 5:30 - 8 p.m., 900 S. Ashland Ave.), UIC will honor Johnson, as well as give recognition to the center's advisory board, sponsors, panelists and supporters.

Criteria for selection for the award include creativity in launching a successful entrepreneurial-based company in an urban environment, contribution to the community by expanding job opportunities, and success in developing future entrepreneurs. As an added tribute to Johnson, the award will be renamed the "Al Johnson Entrepreneurial Award" following this year's celebration.

Other individuals slated to be honored for their support of CUB will include: Alan Saks, former owner, Saxon Paint and Home Care Centers; David Wienberg, former co-chair, Fel-Pro Industries; Art Velasquez, CEO, Azteca Foods; Hermene Hartman, publisher, N'Digo; Marshall Marcovitz, former owner/president, Chef's Catalog; Phyllis Apelbaum, founder and president, Arrow Messenger Service; and Charlie Soo, director, Asian-American Small Business Association.

For more information about the "Man of the Millennium" gala, call CUB at (312) 413-8139.

Established in 1993 under the umbrella of UIC, the mission of CUB is to enhance economic development in Chicagoland by providing its clients with resources and training to start and advance their enterprises. CUB provides viable, individualized solutions to entrepreneurs who come from varying skill levels, experience and business cycles.

CUB is poised to expand its success into the new millennium, and has designed a series of programs targeted at growth-oriented urban entrepreneurs. Its entrepreneurial programs include forums, coaching, certificate programs and customized programs.

With 25,000 students, the University of Illinois at Chicago is the largest and most diverse university in the Chicago area. UIC is home to the largest medical school in the United States and is one of the 88 leading research universities in the country. Located just west of Chicago's Loop, UIC is a vital part of the educational, technological and cultural fabric of the area.


Copyright © 1999 by B&P Consulting, Inc. and University of Illinois at Chicago. All rights reserved.
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