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Friday, February 24, 2012

POLITICS AS USUAL: The Rain Maker Keeps Making it Rain Contributing Correspondent: CDW


Elzie Higginbottom

Very few businessmen can honestly say that they invest in human capital. Most brag about donating to scholarship funds and established organizations like Urban League, NAACP, United Negro College Fund, Operation Push and others. But I know that those are tax right-offs - good business while having personal feel good moments.

But one rainmaker invests in people. The people he invests in, win or lose, they benefit greatly by the rainmaker and his loyal commitment to them. When he selects you to sponsor, you know that you have a guardian angel that has faith and belief in your ability, vision and mission.

Many businessmen in the community boast about their love for their communities, and they speed through the hood periodically making speeches. Elzie continues to remain publically quiet, yet lending a helping hand to assure that people are able to build capacity and growth in business, community activism and political aspirations.

This political enforcer built his fortune not just betting on the winning horse, but betting on the horse with the biggest balls. Yep, I said that. But what better way to describe his contribution to street hustlers and visionaries. That's all politicians, aspiring business people and preachers are - hustlers (respectfully).
When political figures want to raise funds in Chicago’s African-American community, they look to Elzie for guidance. He contributes regularly to political campaigns.

Elzie L. Higginbottom is Founder and President of East Lake Management and Development Corporation and East Lake Management Group, overseeing 12,000 residential units, as well as several commercial properties. He's developed more than 3,500 units of housing across the Midwest. E.L.M. has gone on to become the largest minority-owned real estate company in Illinois.

"As a real estate professional, I'm proud to have developed several high-rise rental properties. I have also had significant success redeveloping some of Chicago’s more underserved communities, in particular the Bronzeville neighborhood," expressed Elzie. Higginbottom is the son of a coin laundry businessman.
After a few years in business, Mr. Higginbottom became a millionaire scoring more than $32 million in contracts with the Chicago Housing Authority. In 2005, Crain’s Chicago Business named Higginbottom on its list of “_Who’s Who” in Real Estate_. Elzie serves as a Member of the Board of Directors of Taylor Capital Group, a Director of After School Matters, and a member of the Board of Trustees for Illinois Institute of Technology.

East Lake Management took a big hit in 2003 when the Cook County administration building it managed caught fire killing six people. Previously, a housing complex his company managed caught fire in 1996 killing four tenants.

These are terrible accidents that occurs without reasoning or blame. And I'm sure that in the end E.LM. paid out for those unfortunate accidents.

As chairman of the Illinois Gaming Committee, Higginbottom oversaw the decision to select the state’s newest casino location. The committee picked Rosemont even after it was alleged that Rosemont's Mayor Don Stephens’ was connected with organized crime. Then Gov. Rod Blagojevich called for a special investigation and in 2004, Higginbottom stepped down from the Gaming Committee.

Elzie developed his commitment to business from his early and successful days as a student athlete at University of Wisconsin. Some of his notable UW accomplishments are as NCAA outdoor All-American; 1963 & 1964 Big Ten Outdoor and Indoor champion at 440 yards; 1962 Big Ten Indoor relay team champion; held the UW indoor and outdoor records in the 440-yard dash for more than 20 years; still ranks third on the UW all-time outdoor list in the 400-meter run; member of two Big Ten championship teams; member of the UW men's track and field Hall of Honor.

In discussions with Higginbothom, he contributes his college days to his career in business. "Being a track athlete taught me the importance of focus and discipline. I also learned how to achieve as an individual and a member of a team." Elzie spends his down time with family and riding horses in Michigan. He currently resides in Lincoln Park (Chicago).

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