As an advocate for high-quality jobs and manufacturing, North Branch Works frequently reviews and weighs in on zoning change proposals in the eight wards that make up our service area.
Recently, we’ve seen an increase in requests to change properties zoned manufacturing to allow for other uses, including residential. And that’s problematic because the purpose of Chicago’s zoning code is to keep compatible land uses together.
As a general practice, North Branch Works supports maintaining properties zoned manufacturing so there are opportunities to attract new companies with jobs that pay family-sustaining wages without requiring advanced degrees.
Using land for manufacturing is community-friendly and creates many benefits including strengthening economic development, increasing revenue for the City of Chicago, and providing high-quality jobs that support equitable and diverse neighborhoods.
Our member businesses have worked hard for many years to create thriving business districts throughout our service area such as Rockwell Street south of Belmont Avenue and on Goose Island. It’s dangerous to entertain changing zoning when it would break up a block of properties zoned for manufacturing and open the door for more proposals that would further mix land uses.
And we know that once manufacturing leaves an area, it’s nearly impossible to bring it back. That’s a major reason Planned Manufacturing Districts (PMDs) were created throughout Chicago. PMDs are designated areas where zoning laws prohibit residential development and other specific uses; they provide safe spaces for businesses to operate without nearby conflicting land uses.
In cases where property owners are struggling to attract a business, North Branch Works sees it as our mission to work with owners and Members of City Council to recruit a company that complies with the current zoning.
And we're excited to join the Chicagoland Manufacturing Renaissance Council and its members to promote and protect manufacturing businesses and jobs.
In short, we see properties zoned manufacturing as presenting valuable opportunities to attract new businesses with high-quality neighborhood jobs and strengthen economic development.
With questions/comments about zoning and/or for help with business attraction, please contact Steve Simmons, 773-929-5552 x2226, firstname.lastname@example.org
Image credit: Chicagoland Manufacturing Renaissance Council