North Branch Works (NBW) is the leading community development organization in the North Branch, Addison, and Kennedy Industrial Corridors. We work to promote job creation and retention, find solutions for individual business needs, strengthen linkages between businesses and their communities, and coordinate City services. We are over 100 partners strong and are always on the lookout for ways to bring benefit to our members.
Changes in Leadership: We said “goodbye” to Mike Holzer, who had been the Executive Director for the last three years and had a long career with NBW. Mike’s leadership and enthusiasm for manufacturing and good jobs for all Chicagoans, as well as his strong connections to businesses and the community are missed. We were fortunate to have Larry Bennett, a long-time board member, take over as Executive Director. Larry recently retired from DePaul University and brings a wealth of knowledge of urban development as well as commitment to the organization, and we are happy to have him on board.
Spring Cleaning: The 4th Annual Spring Clean Up took place on May 13th and included volunteers from North Branch Works’ friends and family, Binny’s Beverage Depot, Wendella Boats, Franklin Energy, Wagner Foundry and The Girls Scouts of Greater Chicago and NWI Troop #20234. We collected over 4 tons (8,490 lbs) of trash including recyclables and 14 tires.
New NBW Mission Statement: In December the NBW Board approved a new organizational mission statement.
The mission statement affirms NBW’s commitment to advocate for the whole spectrum of businesses—industrial, retail, services—in our service area, and to seek economic development that produces good-paying jobs for local residents and is environmentally sustainable.
Infrastructure Task Force:
NBW held three infrastructure task force meetings in 2017 with excellent engagement from local businesses, Aldermen, the Chicago Department of Transportation, railroad representatives, CTA, and other public agencies. We helped get projects started that were identified by business owners. We also updated the community on the status of area projects identified by the City Task Force priorities of transit, major capital infrastructure investment, and advocacy to work toward an industrial corridor that is safe, accessible and functional, competitive and marketable, manageable and attractive.
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 Corridor Management: We were actively engaged in the City of Chicago’s Industrial Corridor Modernization process: with Board and staff attending public meetings, providing written responses to draft plan documents, and meeting with elected officials and city staff throughout the planning process. We successfully worked to ensure that “critical services” were recognized by the City and that parts of the Corridor remained in a Planned Manufacturing District and/or were protected from residential development.
Helping Small Businesses: As a delegate agency for the City of Chicago, we help businesses access the TIF 50/50 program, which reimburses businesses up to 50% of training costs for new and incumbent employees up to $15,000. In 2017, we helped four businesses: Metropolitan Brewing, Maplewood Brewing & Distillery, Metropolis Coffee, and Heritage Pharmacy to apply and win approval for over $36,000 in training cost reimbursements.
In the North Branch South TIF district, Concept Laboratories received a reimbursement of $77,000 for renovations including HVAC, insulation, skylights, and roofing. We successfully helped Maplewood Brewing & Distillery apply for SBIF grant money ($52,000) in the Addison South TIF district. This money, along with funds from our new small business micro loan product, helped them build out their new taproom, which opened for business on December 15th.
Fall Fundraiser: “Looking Forward on the North Branch” was the theme for our 2017 Annual Fundraiser. This year the event was hosted by our member company The Hideout and board director Tim Tuten. It brought in sponsors such as Essanay Studios, Bigane Paving, Ozinga, Baker & McKenzie, Comcast, North Commercial Lofts and Rockwell Properties. It was a fun event that was well attended and we look forward to 2018.
Chicago River Cruise: On June 8th, we toured the Chicago River on our annual boat cruise, partnering with 18th Street Development Corporation. We were pleased to have Ked Fairbank, Executive Director of Chicago Maritime Museum, speak about the river from past to present. Sponsored by Bank of America, WaterSaver Faucet, Ozinga RMC, and Bigane Paving we had over 100 attendees representing 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!
Small Accessible Repairs for Seniors (SARFS): is a city funded program that provides safety, security, and accessibility improvements, free of cost, to low-income seniors. In 2017, NBW completed its seventh year successfully delivering this program to Chicago senior residents. We served 33 households in the Irving Park, Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Garfield Park, Lawndale, Austin, and Lakeview 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 categories, struggling with health, mobility, and financial issues. In 2017 we finished the following:
- 43 Grab Bars
- 6 Steps Repaired/ Replaced
- 6 Kitchens Made Accessible
- 83 Doors Repaired/Replaced
- 22 Kitchen Repairs
- 21 Handrails Installed
- 12 Bathrooms Accessible
- 38 Bathroom Repairs
- 76 Safety Devices Installed
- 39 Floor & Wall Repairs