Bringing Latin America to Chicago's neighborhoods

Cesar Rolon Jr. has spent his career redeveloping Little Village and creating Chicago's first Latin Entertainment and Restaurant District.

By Alise Blunk
|  Wednesday, Sep 14, 2011  |  Updated 3:08 PM CDT
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PHOTOS: Latino Fashion Week 2010

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Creativity and the power of new ideas has helped launch Cesar Rolon Jr.'s career and create changes in Chicago's Latino community.

Rolon received a B.A. in International Business and Human Resource from Northeastern Illinois University. Since graduation, he has spent time working to improve Latin-American communities in Chicago.

Rolon helped to redevelop Chicago's 26th Street in Little Village, when he became the first Non-Mexican Executive Director of the Little Village Chamber of Commerce. Little Village is comprised of over 1,000 small businesses, primarily owned by Latinos. It is currently one of the busiest commercial business districts in Chicago, next to the Magnificent Mile.

Born to Puerto Rican parents, Rolon has celebrated his family heritage and has helped to refine Puerto Rico's presence in Chicago.

The gateway of arches stretching for one mile of Division Street, between Western and California Avenue, is the world's largest Puerto Rican Flag Sculpture. The arch was created to celebrate the Puerto Rican presence in Chicago.

Rolon has used his positions of power to introduce new programs and projects in Chicago. Within 12 months of becoming the executive director of the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce of Illinois, he founded the first Annual Hispanic Women's Business Conference, the young Latino entrepreneur's project and was a part of the planning committee for El Paseo Boricua.

An extensive background in marketing has led Rolon to lead on- and off-premise spirit and beer campaigns for companies such as Miller Coors, Bicardi USA, Jack Daniels and others. He also managed celebrity spirit tours that have included popular musical artists such as Mary J Blige, Christina Aguilera, Kanye West and Ricky Martin.

Latin Fashion Week, the only Latino fashion week in the United States, was launched in Chicago in 2007 by the efforts of Rolon. This week is now recognized as a place for Latinos
to break into the fashion world in the United States.

Rolon worked with the office of Ald. Roberto Maldonano to create the first Latin American Food, Art and Wine Festival. The festival helped market and introduce Chicago's first Latin Entertainment and Restaurant District, set to be completed in two years. The district would be along a portion of West Armitage Avenue in the Logan Square neighborhood.

Rolon continues to use his talents to benefit Chicago's Latino community with his involvement in Latino empowerment, grass root community activities, parent and student organizations and Hispanic cultural activities.

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