Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle launched an unprecedented effort July 18 to generate new industrial investment in Chicagoland neighborhoods.
The Industrial Growth Zones program will accelerate neighborhood development in seven designated areas over the next three years by removing longstanding hurdles to development and providing a broad set of services to support property owners and industrial businesses.
The program will reinforce and revitalize Chicago’s great commercial strength by removing barriers to site development for businesses and spurring job growth across communities for residents, Mayor Emanuel said.
“This joint effort will improve how property owners, industrial developers and businesses invest in our city’s neighborhoods, and unlock the potential for further economic growth,” he added.
Preckwinkle said Growth Zones are designed to attract investment into and development of specific industrial areas to spur regional economic growth and generate real, sustainable jobs.
The Industrial Growth Zone program is designed to address the two primary issues landowners and developers cite as obstacles to industrial site investment: vacant or unused land’s environmental conditions, and often-complex government regulations.
Much of the land in Chicago and the south suburbs had previously been developed for a variety of uses. But before new development can occur, in-depth environmental analysis and clean-up is often required. Through the program, landowners within Industrial Growth Zones will have access to a new site certification program designed to make information about their land available and transparent and prepare it for faster development. Landowners will also be eligible to receive up to $130,000 in financial assistance for environmental site assessments and remediation, plus free marketing to developers and companies. Landowners interested in developing their property can enroll in the program online starting today.
Industrial developers and businesses interested in moving to or expanding in an Industrial Growth Zone will have access to an industrial concierge, who will be the single-point-of-contact to guide them through local and state government issues. They will also receive streamlined development incentives; expedited permitting, licensing, and inspections; and assistance with workforce hiring and training. The only requirement for companies to participate in the program is that they partner with a local workforce agency to emphasize local hiring.
During the three-year pilot program, the designated zones include the Northwest, Greater Southwest, Burnside and Calumet Industrial Corridors, and the Roosevelt/Cicero Redevelopment Area in Chicago; and several South Suburban communities which contain significant assets, but face very real economic challenges.
The Industrial Growth Zones program builds on the Emanuel administration’s work to grow and support existing manufacturers, while bringing new ones such as Method and the Whole Foods Distribution Center to Chicago. It also aligns with the Preckwinkle administration’s strategic focus on revitalizing manufacturing and industrial areas to advance economic growth both within Cook County and the broader region. Industrial Growth Zones will support projects similar to those advanced by Cook County’s BUILT in Cook Program, which assisted the Cullerton Avenue Industrial Area in Franklin Park, one of the largest manufacturing corridors in the Chicago metro area, which is home to 10 companies employing more than 1,300 people.
The City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development and Cook County Bureau of Economic Development are collaborating with partners including the Civic Consulting Alliance, McKinsey & Company, World Business Chicago and the Zeno Group on the initiative.