Category: News

Apply for a low-interest business loan from North Branch Works

Having access to North Branch Works’ low-interest business loan fund is a valuable benefit we provide to our members.

Our mission is to strengthen economic development in our service area by helping businesses get started, grow, and expand so they can provide high-quality jobs to Chicagoans.

Toward that end, we have a microloan fund that can make loans of up to $25,000 to startup companies and up to $50,000 to existing businesses.

Our interest rates range from 2-8% and the term ranges from 6-36 months with a small 2% closing cost. In some cases such as when a business has received a Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) award, we can make loans above these limits.

Because SBIF projects must be financed by a business before it can submit for reimbursement from the City of Chicago, our loan fund is a great way to avoid diverting capital or taking out a loan from another lender at a higher interest rate.

Loans from North Branch Works can be used for business purposes such as purchasing equipment and inventory, customizing and repairing your physical space, and working capital.

The primary goal of our loan fund is to help businesses grow and expand while incurring the lowest possible costs. For example, let’s say a business in our service area needs to make $17,000 worth of improvements to a physical space before it can move into our area and open.

The business could apply to our loan fund; for the sake of this example, let’s assume our loan fund committee reviews and approves the loan at 2%. We can issue the check immediately. At this rate, it would cost the company $340 to borrow $17,000 and the 2% APR would be amortized over the term of the loan.

And if your business needs a loan that is larger than what we can offer, we’d love to connect you to other lenders in our network like Allies for Community Business and LISC Chicago.

Coming out of the pandemic, North Branch Works would like to see our resources deployed in our service area and positioning our members for present and future success.

Currently, we have a goal of making two low-interest loans by the end of 2021. For more information, please see our business loan fund one-pager.

With questions and to express interest in applying to our business loan fund, please contact Steve Simmons at 773-929-5552 x2226 or steve@northbranchworks.org.

SR Solutions Inc. joins North Branch Works

A family-owned construction business, SR Solutions Inc. helps commercial and residential clients improve their quality of life by completing projects using high-quality sustainable materials.

Located in North Center, the company offers a wide range of full interior remodeling services including customizing offices, small restaurant spaces, kitchens, bathrooms, and basements.

For over twenty-two years, the owner, Stoyan Rizov (pictured above with NBW staff Steve Simmons), has completed incredible remodeling projects using reclaimed materials across the Chicago region from Northbrook to the South Loop.

His company grew out of his passion for the building trades at an early age. Because he grew up in an artistic family, it was natural for the company to combine high-quality craftsmanship with innovative design services.

As someone who loves the City of Chicago, Stoyan prides himself on providing customers with honest advice and helping them make the best choices according to their needs. He knows his customers are counting on him to pay close attention to details and complete the project on budget.

Indeed, the company has never received a complaint from a client in its fourteen-year history.

SR Solutions can repair masonry, remove pesticides and mold, fix leaky faucets, install doors, and fix or replace HVAC building systems. There’s really no project that is too big or small for the company.

Hiring SR Solutions for your project is a great way to support a local family-owned business and jobs along the North Branch. In order to complete larger projects, the company partners with window crews, demolition teams, designers, and a kitchen cabinet company.

In a typical year, SR Solutions finishes between twenty to twenty-five projects because the business prioritizes carrying out high-quality work over doing a large volume of projects. And usually that focus results in the company completing about two projects per month.

Currently, SR Solutions is hiring skilled remodelers and general laborers. If you or someone in your network would like to find out more information and apply, please call 773-799-6560.

North Branch Works is thrilled to welcome SR Solutions as a new member business.  If you’ve been thinking about and/or putting off a repair project, we highly recommend making an appointment with SR Solutions Inc.

We would also like to recognize Marina Rizova, Designer and Sustainability Director, for her leadership and service on our Board of Directors.

Stoyan Rizov would like to network with his fellow North Branch Works members. With questions and to reach out to him, please call 773-799-6560.

Image credits: SR Solutions Inc.

Goose Island Summit on Aug. 5th

Please join us for the 3rd Annual Goose Island Summit.  It’ll be held on Zoom on Thursday, Aug. 5 from 10-11:30 a.m.

It’s a great opportunity to hear from elected officials and key stakeholders about current and future plans for this important business district.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Alderman Walter Burnett (27th Ward)
  • Cindy Roubik, Assistant Commissioner, Central Region, Chicago Department of Planning and Development
  • Jeffrey Sriver, Director of Transportation Planning, Chicago Department of Transportation
  • Soliman Khudeira, Section Chief Major Projects, Chicago Department of Transportation.

Stay tuned for more speakers to be added shortly.

Agenda items include:

  • The implementation of the North Branch Framework Plan
  • The replacement of the Division Street Bridge, including an estimated project timeline.
  • The proposed transit way connecting Goose Island to the Central Business District.
  • An update on advocacy efforts to add lighting, gateway signage, and repave the roads on Goose Island.

Please register for the Goose Island Summit at no cost here.

With questions and for more information, please contact Steve Simmons at 773-929-5552 x2226 or steve@northbranchworks.org

Image credit: Crain’s Chicago Business

Bike the North Branch on August 7th

Join us for a leisurely bike tour of the North Branch on Saturday, August 7th from 10 a.m. to noon.

The tour includes stops at incredible destinations in our service area including Morton Salt (pictured above), the Hideout, Guild Row, Rockwell on the River, Green Exchange, and Ravinia Brewing.

We’ll hear from business owners and talk about the area’s rich industrial history and future plans.

For most of the roughly five-mile bike ride, we’ll use bike lanes on Elston Avenue.

We’ll meet at the Morton Salt project site located at 1357 N. Elston Avenue. The ride will end at Ravinia Brewing Company’s new taproom in Logan Square (2601 W. Diversey Avenue) near the CTA’s #76 Diversey Bus stop.

This is a great way to learn more about local businesses, their plans for re-opening, and how we can support them.

Please register here with a suggested donation of $20. Proceeds support the neighborhood economic development work of North Branch Works.

With questions and for more information, please contact Steve Simmons at 773-929-5552 x2226 or steve@northbranchworks.org

                                        

21 businesses apply to SBIF in Western Avenue South

The City of Chicago’s Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) is one of the best tools we have to promote economic development, add high-quality jobs, and strengthen businesses in our service area.

In June, SBIF was open in the Western Avenue South TIF District in the North Center neighborhood; we’re thrilled to announce 21 businesses applied for grants!

SBIF provides businesses with reimbursable grants for permanent building improvements in TIF districts across the city. The program is open to commercial and industrial businesses.

SBIF funds can be used for projects such as storefront renovations, building systems, interior remodeling, and roof replacements.

Commercial businesses are eligible for grants covering 30%, 60%, or 90% of a project’s costs while industrial businesses with 200 or fewer employees can receive reimbursement for 50% of the cost of a building upgrade.

North Branch Works staff conducted extensive outreach for the program in Western Avenue South, including canvassing the area with staff from 47th Ward Alderman Matt Martin’s office (pictured below right) and writing a story promoting SBIF for 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack’s newsletter.

In addition, we made hundreds of phone calls, emails, and sent letters encouraging eligible businesses to apply.

Many of the 20 applications resulted from our outreach to businesses such as Delmark Records, Environmental Futures, Burning Bush Brewery, E & J Foreign Cars, and more.

And thanks to our outreach efforts, we’re excited to welcome Drs. Valdes & Kulekowskis Podiatry (pictured above) as our newest member business in Western Avenue South. Stay tuned for a feature of this dynamic woman and minority-owned podiatry practice that serves low-income Chicagoans.

SBIF continues to open in TIF Districts across the city every month. Some of the SBIFs that will open close to North Branch Works’ service area include:

  • Fullerton/Milwaukee in August 2021,
  • Western Avenue North in October 2021
  • Avondale in November 2021.

The next TIF District scheduled to open for SBIF in our service area is Addison South in March of 2022. Western Avenue South will open again in June of 2022.

To see a full calendar of SBIF openings, please go here.

With questions about SBIF and North Branch Works’ low-interest Small Business Loan Fund, please contact Steve Simmons, 773-929-5552 x2226, steve@northbranchworks.org

Image credit: Drs. Valdes & Kulekowskis Podiatry

Rezoning of 1838 N. Elston highlights need for city plan for industrial land

Last week, the Chicago Plan Commission approved the rezoning of the former Wagner Foundry site at 1838 N. Elston Avenue from heavy manufacturing to a residential business planned development.

North Branch Works opposed this zoning change because it would break up a block of properties zoned for manufacturing, which is incredibly valuable and supports equitable neighborhoods.

Our letter to the Chicago Plan Commission highlights these points and others.

Having available land for industrial use positions the city to recruit new companies that provide high-quality family-sustaining jobs without requiring advanced degrees.

1838 N. Elston is in the heart of our service area where many industrial businesses are thriving. These companies include SIPI Metals, Howe Corporation, O’Brien Metal, and Chicago Roof Deck and Garden.

The Elston Avenue Industrial Corridor has experienced great success because businesses could plan for and rely upon compatible surrounding land uses.

It’s easy to see this zoning change as one land parcel. But we’ve already seen an alarming trend of the reduction of industrial land along the North Branch. At the same time, the industrial real estate market is booming.

We want to see Chicago take advantage of this market by attracting new industrial companies and high-quality jobs to our area. And to see that growth we have to preserve the remaining land zoned for industrial use along the North Branch.

One of Chicago’s greatest strengths is a diversified economy that helps the city  thrive during good times and survive any major economic downturns.

Industrial companies play a major role in strengthening Chicago’s economy by carrying out essential work and employing people in head-of-household jobs. Continuing to reduce industrial land on the North Side will harm Chicago’s economy.

For these reasons, North Branch Works sees an urgent need to develop a citywide plan for preserving industrial land so that decision-makers like the Chicago Plan Commission can consider any proposed conversion of industrial land within the context of the city as a whole.

We call on the Chicago Plan Commission and Chicago Department of Planning and Development to lead this effort and stand ready to help them with research and on-the-ground knowledge of our service area.

North Branch Works mourns the passing of Kevin Clark at Logan & Western

The viability of Chicago’s industrial and commercial corridors relies upon people having safe and easy access to them regardless of how they choose to travel to, from, and within these important areas.

North Branch Works is deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Kevin Clark in a crash while riding his bike at Logan Boulevard and Western Avenue, a notoriously dangerous intersection in our service area for all transportation users.

We stand with Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Active Transportation Alliance, and Kevin Clark’s family and friends in calling on our elected officials to build safety improvements immediately at Logan and Western.

It’s clear that the intersection of Logan and Western is broken and has been neglected for far too long. We can’t wait any longer for safety upgrades that will save lives and strengthen neighborhoods and local businesses.

The commercial area on Logan Boulevard east of Western Avenue is a vibrant economic hub with people frequently traveling to and from it for work and to purchase goods and services.

In 2018, the Active Transportation Alliance worked with Logan Square Neighborhood Association to develop a variety of community-informed recommendations to improve the intersection (see image right), including adding a protected bike lane, improving lighting and the timing of traffic signals, and installing a new crosswalk on the south side of Logan across Western.

If you live in Chicago, please take a moment to sign this petition calling on Mayor Lightfoot and your alderman to fix Logan and Western and make streets safer for biking across the city.

The family of Kevin Clark, Active Transportation Alliance, and Chicago Ride of Silence will hold a vigil and press conference on Saturday, June 12th at 10 a.m. at the Logan Square Monument.

If you plan to attend, please RSVP to the Facebook event.

Image credits: Active Transportation Alliance and Port Urbanism

Ravinia Brewing opens new taproom in Logan Square

A family-friendly establishment, Ravinia Brewing’s new taproom recently opened in Logan Square, adding an incredible destination where you can enjoy innovative craft beers and freshly made Mexican street fare.

Located at 2601 W. Diversey Avenue in between the Green Exchange and the Kennedy Expressway, the much-anticipated opening comes two years after the business began brewing beer on this site.

A relative newcomer to the thriving craft beer scene, Ravinia Brewing began distribution in 2017, growing out of the Ravinia District in Highland Park where the company opened its first location, an award-winning taproom and taco bar.

The menu at the new taproom features a variety of mouth-watering Mexican street food such as hand-pressed tortillas and tacos (see below left) along with breakfast burritos, bowls, salads, and dynamic vegetarian options.

And the beer selection is an amazing compliment to the food offerings. Some of the available beers include the Diversey Station, a session pale ale, and small-batch limited releases such as the Isle of Hops, a hazy IPA, and Casa de Guava, a Berliner Weisse.

The new taproom has a creative floorplan with window swings, intimate booths, bar service, and retractable garage doors. The design reflects Ravinia Brewing’s strong commitment to protecting the health and safety of its customers as well as its three core pillars of “Community, Craft, and Creation.”

If you visit the taproom, you can take comfort knowing the company is following strict COVID-19 protocols including requiring masks, social distancing, and providing hand sanitizer.

The new space also includes Chicago history as the bar dates back to a pre-Prohibition establishment located at Diversey Avenue and Halsted Street.

And you can escape behind the taproom to a hidden beer garden decorated with string lights and barrels. The garden offers plenty of room to enjoy late night entertainment and host private events.

Getting to Ravinia Brewing’s new location is relatively easy via public transportation as you can hop on the CTA’s #76 Diversey Bus, which will drop you off in front of the taproom. And the brewpub is within walking distance for most residents of Avondale and Logan Square.

For people driving, it’s easy to get to the taproom from the Kennedy Expressway. There’s a small private parking lot on the south side of Diversey Avenue just east of the business and street parking nearby.

Currently, the new brewpub is open: Tuesday through Thursday from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

North Branch Works members and supporters can help Ravinia Brewing Company by visiting the taproom frequently. You can also purchase beer to go in person.

Please follow Ravinia Brewing on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Sign up for the latest news and specials here.

We’re thrilled to welcome Ravinia Brewing Company to the neighborhood and look forward to supporting the company’s continued success and growth.

With questions and to connect with Ravinia Brewing, please contact: info@raviniabrewing.com

Image credits: Ravinia Brewing Company

 

 

Allies for Community Business, an incredible resource for small businesses

A nonprofit, Community Development Financial Institution, Allies for Community Business strengthens small businesses by helping them access capital, develop innovative strategies through coaching, and collaborate to obtain important resources.

Located in East Garfield Park on Chicago’s West Side, Allies for Community Business works with public, private, and nonprofit partners to serve entrepreneurs and small businesses in Illinois and Indiana.

Formerly known as Accion Chicago, Allies for Community Business focuses on underserved communities including businesses owned by Black, Latinx, women, and low-income people.

The organization has a loan program and can make loans to startups and existing businesses ranging from $500 to $100,000. And if a business needs a loan greater than $100,000, A4CB can connect them to other lenders in its network.

The loan program targets businesses that historically experience difficulty accessing capital through the conventional lending system. Unlike other lenders, Allies for Community Business does not use credit scores or place liens on personal assets.

Instead, the organization makes its lending decisions based on how well a business has managed its debt over the past two years and how much income is available for monthly payments. For more information and to apply for a loan, please go here.

Along with its lending program, Allies for Community Business maintains a webpage with current grant opportunities for businesses. A4CB staff encourages and helps businesses to apply for grants before considering its loan program.

In addition to helping businesses access capital, Allies for Community Business offers individual and group coaching sessions for early-stage, emerging, and established businesses. To learn more about its trainings and to schedule a session, please go here.

Allies for Community Business also specializes in helping food and beverage entrepreneurs invest in underserved communities. In 2016, the organization formed a partnership with the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago. Together they launched The Hatchery, a 67,000 square foot food and beverage incubator on the West Side.

Some of the resources available to businesses at The Hatchery include: fifty-four private kitchens leasable per year, five shared kitchen spaces rentable by the hour, and a twelve-week training program for aspiring chefs ages 16 to 25.

During the pandemic, Allies for Community Business understood the overwhelming need for its services and accelerated its programming, resulting in the allocation of nearly $400 million in grants and loans to 22,000 businesses, and 15,000 businesses receiving customized trainings.

Recently, Allies for Community Business became one of eight regional business centers funded by the City of Chicago. Thanks to this program, the nonprofit has expanded its services to help businesses resolve licensing issues and obtain public way permits, which previously required a trip to City Hall.

North Branch Works members and supporters can help Allies for Community Business by signing up for its newsletter and following A4CB on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

We’re proud to partner with Allies for Community Business and would like to thank Mary Fran Riley (see below, second from left), Director of Community Relationships, for participating in our recent Spring Fundraiser.

With questions and to connect with Allies for Community Business, please reach out to Yessenia Diaz De Leon, Associate Director of Community Business, ydiazdeleon@a4cb.org.

Image credits: Allies for Community Business

MxD building the capacity of American manufacturers

Arising from an awareness the U.S. federal government needed to strengthen American manufacturing, MxD successfully obtained a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to create a manufacturing institute in Chicago in 2014.

Prior to this grant opportunity, Illinois faced a vexing problem: many of its high-caliber engineering and science graduates left the state after graduation due to a lack of attractive career opportunities.

To address this challenge, a group of motivated stakeholders including leaders from area universities, private industry, the City of Chicago and State of Illinois, and economic development groups banded together to catalog the region’s many strengths, including manufacturing and computer science, and put together a multisector strategy to better leverage these assets.

Because of this strong foundation, when former President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology recommended creating a nationwide network of manufacturing institutes, MxD (known then as UI LABS) quickly presented a strong application. The organization’s proposal won initial grants totaling $80 million from the U.S. Department of Defense and received support from the City of Chicago and State of Illinois to convert a former windows and doors factory into its innovation center.

Today, MxD is a woman-led, membership-based manufacturing institute that occupies a state-of-the-art facility on Goose Island (1415 N. Cherry St.) with a 22,000 square-foot shop floor (see below right). MxD is the second of 16 manufacturing institutes created by the federal government across the country.

Birds-eye view of the factory floor at the MxD Innovation facility.

Some of MxD’s high-profile members include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Siemens, John Deere, Microsoft, Lockheed Martin, and AT&T.

Over the course of its seven-year history, MxD has facilitated public-private partnerships that have invested more than $120 million in 85 different projects. In addition, MxD employs approximately forty people in high-quality jobs.

Recently, MxD launched a Supplier Diversity Procurement Program that allows companies to identify as a diverse supplier, giving them an advantage in applying for projects. If your company is a diverse supplier, you can register here at no cost.

Along with a strong commitment to supplier diversity, MxD is especially proud to have a Board of Directors that is majority women. This stands out in the manufacturing sector, which is typically two-thirds men and one-third women.

A major issue that MxD helps manufacturers address is cybersecurity. It’s a high priority for MxD because a malicious attack can cost your company thousands in damages and reverberate throughout the supply chain. Learn more about the steps you can take to protect your company or consider how you might advance your own career in cybersecurity.

Joining MxD as a member is a great way to grow your network, position your company to participate in new public-private projects, and improve the efficiency and safety of your manufacturing systems.

MxD has a wealth of resources and a valuable network that supports small and mid-sized manufacturers. Some of the company’s resources range from free webinars to members-only content as well as knowledge from different sectors that can help companies address problems.

And the good news is that annual rate for Tier 3 members is only $500. To inquire about joining MxD as a member, please reach out to: membership@mxdusa.org.

North Branch Works is proud to partner with MxD to attract manufacturers and grow manufacturing jobs. These positions are high-quality jobs that pay family-sustaining wages without requiring advanced degrees and ultimately support a more equitable Chicago region.

To see a dynamic video feature of MxD, please join us for North Branch Works’ Spring Fundraiser on May 20th.

North Branch Works would also like to recognize Bill Hurley from MxD for his dedicated service on our Board of Directors.

With questions and to connect with MxD, please email: info@mxdusa.org

Image credits: MxD