Kenya Merritt, Chicago’s chief small business officer, comes by her love of this city honestly.
She grew up on the West Side, daughter of a CTA bus driver and granddaughter of 94-year-old Dorothy Anderson, who moved to Chicago from Tupelo, Miss. in 1965 and still resides in North Lawndale. As a child, Merritt witnessed how energized her own family was after attending a rally held by Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor. She was 6.
“(My) mom said I wanted to donate the money from my piggy bank to his campaign,” said Merritt, 42, who now lives in the Austin neighborhood with her 15-year-old son, Caleb Dunson.
After 18 years in other city departments, Merritt...