As we hit the ground running in 2022, it’s an excellent time to pause and reflect on the major stories from our service area in 2021.
Last year had its ups and downs due to the lingering pandemic; our thoughts and well-wishes are with everyone who has been impacted by COVID-19.
With that in mind, here are the top ten stories in 2021 from the North Branch of the Chicago River:
1. North Branch Works convened developers and real estate brokers for a roundtable discussion about the future of development in our service area. A webinar on Zoom, the State of Development along North Branch featured updates about Lincoln Yards, the Salt District, Lathrop, and Rockwell on the River. If you missed it, you can read a recap and watch it here.
2. Governor J.B. Pritzker visited the North Branch, appearing before a packed house at the Hideout. Governor Pritzker highlighted his support of small businesses and high-quality jobs in a wide-ranging conversation with talk show star Pat Whalen.
3. The Chicago Plan Commission approved plans for the redevelopment of the Morton Salt facility. The so-called Salt District will add approximately 285 permanent jobs and 41,500 square feet of office space that will attract new businesses to our service area. We’re excited to see the project move forward with a projected opening in the summer of 2022.
4. In October, KOVAL Distillery opened its new tasting room and patio (see below right). The company’s continued growth highlights the valuable role manufacturing plays in creating a diversified economy in Chicago.
5. The City of Chicago’s Small Business Improvement Fund is one of the best tools we have to strengthen local businesses and support high-quality jobs. SBIF grants help cover the cost of permanent building improvements. In June, our staff helped twenty-one businesses in the Western Avenue South TIF District apply to the SBIF program.
6. Lawyers for the Creative Arts recognized The Hideout’s Tim and Katie Tuten with an award for their advocacy on behalf of small independent music venues. We’d also like to congratulate Katie Tuten on being named Chicagoan of the Year by Chicago Magazine.
7. In October, the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection awarded North Branch Works with a grant to connect small businesses to COVID-19 resources. Our staff consulted with sixty-nine businesses and reached out to 1,336 firms in our service area. We also awarded grants of $2,500 to four small businesses.
8. Developer Sterling Bay broke ground on the ALLY at 1229 W Concord Place in October. This eight-story building will provide 280,000 square feet of lab space for medical research companies. The ALLY is a major boost to the City of Chicago’s efforts to attract companies in the rapidly growing life sciences sector.
9. Over the summer, North Branch Works led bicycle and kayak tours featuring local businesses and incredible destinations in our service area. Stay tuned for more opportunities to join us and learn more about the businesses and rich history of our area.
10. Nearly seventy people joined us in October for our Fall Gala. The program featured dynamic remarks from Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward), Ald. Walter Burnett (27th Ward), Ald. Michele Smith (43rd Ward), and Tammy Phillips, President and CEO of Howe Corporation, a woman-owned manufacturer of refrigeration equipment.
North Branch Works is celebrating its 40th Anniversary in 2022. We hope you’ll join us in recognizing our long history of serving businesses and advocating for high-quality jobs.
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Thank you to our members, partners, and supporters for a fun, informative, and productive year.
Image credit (top): Kevin Hartmann, Sterling Bay
Image credits: R2 Companies, KOVAL Distillery, The Hideout, Sterling Bay