Last month, LISC Chicago, LISC’s national CEO Maurice Jones, Mayor Emanuel, the City of Chicago and our community partners the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation (GAGDC), Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) and Teamwork Englewood, announced the Southwest Corridor Collaborative (SWCC). This partnership between government, community organizations and businesses is taking a targeted people and place-based approach to economic development.
LISC Chicago has an established reputation in the city for developing and delivering a community development methodology that meaningfully engages residents and stakeholders in setting a vision for their neighborhood and implementing that vision through aligned programs and investments. Through SWCC, LISC will bring that methodology and approach and build a focused economic development strategy to the south and southwest side communities. LISC’s intent is to document and learn from SWCC in order to replicate the work in other cross-community commercial corridors in the city.
LISC has been committed to these communities for the last 36 years. We have supported capacity building in the neighborhood organizations, community planning, special programs and real estate lending. The SWCC came out of one of LISC Chicago’s foundational investments, Quality-of-Life Planning, which Englewood, Auburn Gresham and Chicago Southwest created 10 years ago and are currently completing their second community-led visions for their future.
We are recommitting for another decade to continue to build capacity and deepen our efforts on economic development. LISC’s commitment to the SWCC includes seed funding this effort to cover capacity building and support at our neighborhood partner organizations and $50M in lending for investments in real estate and local neighborhood businesses targeted as part of this initiative.
SWCC is a collaborative effort focused on creating living wage jobs through physical, human and business investment. These geographic areas of focus are along 63rd Street from Cottage Grove to Pulaski and incorporating key nodes along Halsted and 79th Street to produce data-informed but community-led strategies to leverage the investments needed to achieve the goal of job creation. Investments will be made in real estate, housing, small businesses, transit and employment opportunities.
SWCC will approach neighborhood led economic development planning, implementation and investments guided by the following priorities:
- Job Creation: Identifying strategic industries to locate/expand in the target area that will provide living wage job opportunities.
- Infrastructure: Preparing physical locations within communities for business/job attraction and expansion. Assemble land to develop into project-ready commercial locations. Secure sufficient broadband, wireless and utility service capacity at existing and new properties that appropriately meets the needs of targeted industry sectors. Guide and finance transportation improvements (roads, sidewalks, public transit) to meet business and workforce needs.
- Connecting Residents to Jobs: Preparing and connecting residents to living wage job opportunities through household financial stability; skills development to build a talent pipeline for middle skill jobs; and partnerships with large employers and job placement agencies to connect residents to quality jobs.
- Supporting Entrepreneurship: Establishing a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem to catalyze business startups and expansions. This will include capital access – loans, grants and equity deployed through local partnerships; developing affordable and project-ready spaces in the area; partnerships with business and financial mentors; linkages to sales relationships with anchor institutions in partnership with World Business Chicago and others; and, investments supports like incubators, accelerators and other direct assistance to neighborhood entrepreneurs.
- Investment: SWCC will organize/create a navigable process for a full-suite of products and incentives to attract businesses and other investment to the area. This will include innovative use of LISC resources including grants, loans and equity as well as identifying and facilitating city and state resources, collaborating with other partners and leveraging direct investments from private financial institutions.
The outcomes we will achieve are simple. More jobs, more investment, more businesses and more people living and working in the neighborhoods.
I want to thank our committed SWCC partners which include: Ald. Foulkes, 16th Ward; Ald. Moore, 17th Ward; Chicago Cares; Comcast; Community Investment Corporation (CIC); Cook County Land Bank; The National Equity Fund; The PrivateBank; Urban Partnership Bank; US Bank; and, World Business Chicago. Of particular note is the Community Investment Corporation’s commitment of $10M in lending for housing investments.
Meghan Harte serves as the executive director of the Chicago office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). A national leader in comprehensive community development, LISC Chicago’s mission is to connect neighborhoods to the resources they need to become stronger and healthier.
Tags: Chicago, City of Chicago, Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation, LISC Chicago, Meghan K. Harte, Microsoft, Microsoft Chicago, Southwest Corridor Collaborative, Southwest Organizing Project, Teamwork Englewood