2016 Highlights

North Branch Works (NBW) is the leading community development organization in the North Branch, Addison, and Kennedy Industrial Corridors. We work towards job retention/creation, find solutions for individual business needs, strengthen linkages between businesses and their communities, and coordinate City services. We are over 120 partners strong and continuously look for ways to enhance benefits for our members.

NBW group shot with ESDC

Boat Cruise with 18th Street Development Corp

On June 9th, we cruised the Chicago River for our third annual boat cruise. This year, we partnered with 18th Street Development Corporation to tour both the North and South Branches of the Chicago River. We intentionally toured both branches to illustrate the range of businesses that benefit from their location on the Chicago River, such as Ozinga RMC, who has concrete plants on both branches. Sponsored by Byline Bank and Ozinga RMC, we had over 100 attendees from several community organizations, banks, businesses, residents, and property owners. We would like to thank Wendella Water Taxi for their support and help in making this event one of our most popular events!

Infrastructure Task Force

NBW held two infrastructure task force meetings in 2016 with excellent engagement from local businesses, alderman, Chicago Department of Transportation, CTA, and other city departments. We helped get projects started that were identified by businesses as well as updated the community on the status of area projects initiated by the city. NBW worked with local business owners & CDOT to write a detailed letter outlining several infrastructure improvements, such as stop signs, “Do Not Block Intersection” signs, and speed bump painting to the alderman’s office. This expedited the completion of numerous infrastructure improvements on Goose Island.

Wagner Team 1

TIF Assistance to Small Business TIF 50/50 (North Branch South & Addison South TIF)

In June 2016, we began a contract with the City of Chicago to roll out the TIF 50/50 program in two TIF districts. This program reimburses businesses 50% of training costs for new and incumbent employees for up to $15,000. The Wagner Foundry applied and was reimbursed $6,500 for training a new hire as a molder and completing a full staff OSHA training. Pictured above are the new hire trainee, tenured trainer and office manager of Wagner Foundry, Rick Gurrieri. SBIF (Small Business Improvement Fund) We helped Concept Laboratories, Chicago Local Foods, and O’Brien Metals from the North Branch South TIF apply for SBIF grant money. Concept Labs requested $150,000 for renovations including HVAC, insulation, skylights, and roofing. Once completed, Concept Labs will be reimbursed $75,000 for these updates. Additionally, in the Addison South TIF district, Ale Syndicate and Maplewood Brewery both applied for SBIF funds for production facility construction.

North Branch Industrial Corridor Modernization Planning

NBW formed the “Modern Manufacturing Alliance” made of industrial and commercial firms, developers, community groups, chambers of commerce and others to advance our vision of an “Urban Innovation District” for the Finkl site and the rest of the North Branch Industrial Corridor. This “Vision Statement” closely followed the River Works Plan for redevelopment of the Finkl/Lakin/Gutmann sites and garnered widespread support from the community. For more information and to download documents, please see:


Spring Cleaning

On Saturday May 14, North Branch Works held its 3rd Annual Spring Cleaning Day in partnership with Waste Management and other companies located in the Goose Island and Halsted-River Triangle area. Over 85 people volunteered from 12 companies (in addition to the 250 that Friends of the River recruited for clean up along the North Branch). Waste Management recorded us collecting 7,720 pounds of trash and 18 tires in 2016. Items found included everything from cigarettes, to bedding materials, to morel mushrooms! Companies that participated included Kendall College, Franklin Energy, UI Labs, WaterSaver Faucet, Guardian Equipment, the Naru Project, Waste Management, and Wrigley/MARS.

North Branch Industrial Corridor Development & Management

In early 2016, we released a Transportation Framework Plan led by Sam Schwartz Transportation Consultants as part of our “River Works” Plan. The plan explored and advanced critical transit/transportation planning and needs for the North Branch Industrial Corridor and surrounding communities.

Key recommendations from the study included:

  • Formation of a major transit hub centered around the Clybourn Metra Station including potential to connect the Ashland BRT, Bloomingdale Trail, Park/Ride, and bus shuttles serving the area
  • Ideas to connect the 606, Armitage and create other needed east/west connections across the
  • Formation of a Transportation Management Association (TMA) to capture, plan for and guide additional transportation investment in the area


Fall Fundraiser: “Investing in the Corridor”

Overall, we raised over $20,000 at this year’s fall fundraiser, our highest since our 30th anniversary! North Branch Works annual Fall Fundraiser was held on November 10th, 2016 at UI Labs. We received $17,500 in sponsorship and our silent auction consisted of 31 donations for prizes, which raised $4,025. The theme was “Investing in the Corridor” and we highlighted 5 major Investors in the corridor with showcases and had nearly 100 attendees at the event, including Commissioner David Reifman from the Department of Planning and Development. Photo above of staff and Commissioner.

Community Development: Small Accessible Repairs for Seniors (SARFS)

SARFS is a city funded program that provides safety, security and accessibility improvements, free of cost to low-income seniors. In 2016, NBW completed its sixth successful year delivering this program to Chicago senior residents. We served 33 households in Irving Park, Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Garfield Park, Lawndale, Austin, Portage Park and Belmont-Cragin communities. NBW has found that there is an overwhelming need for this type free repair assistance. Most of the seniors we service are in the very low to extremely low income limits categories, struggling with health, mobility & financial issues. While NBW continues to refocus on workforce development, the SARFS program keeps our name and connections strong with like-minded groups.

A look at the 2016 Numbers:

  • 33 low income senior households served
  • Installation of Safety Devices-88
  • Floor/Wall Repairs- 27
  • Repair/Replacing Doors- 100
  • Grab Bars, Transfer Benches, Hand-Held Showers- 41
  • Doors Widened- 1
  • Handrails Installed- 24
  • Steps Repaired/Replaced- 5
  • Bathrooms Made Accessible- 18
  • Kitchens Made Accessible- 3
  • Bathroom Repairs- 42
  • Kitchen Repairs- 15

2015 NBW Highlights Summary