As we move closer to 2024, it’s a perfect time to stop and reflect on the major stories from our service area in 2023.
We've seen major changes this year including the election and inauguration of Mayor Brandon Johnson. With that in mind, here are the top ten stories in 2023 from the North Branch of the Chicago River:
1. North Branch Works co-hosted our first-ever mayoral candidate forum at MxD on February 8th. Five of the nine major candidates participated, including now Mayor Brandon Johnson. All candidates pledged to create a high-level position in their administrations to oversee the growth of the manufacturing and industrial sectors.
2. Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi presented at NBW’s Industrial Business Council about the process his office uses to determine property tax rates. We organized this forum after hearing from our manufacturers and small businesses about the high burden new rates have placed on them.
3. Small businesses received grants in partnership with NBW. We were thrilled to help small businesses in our service area obtain grants this year. The Alley Chicago and Soul & Smoke received community development grants from the city. Boulevard Bistro was selected for a Restaurant Strong Grant and Hyun’s Hapkido & Taekwondo School won a Backing Small Businesses Grant. We also helped Taqueria Amigo Chino in Portage Park win a $10,000 grant from the Pepsico Foundation for Hispanic-owned restaurants.
4. Businesses in the North Branch continue to benefit from the City of Chicago’s Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF). We led the outreach to businesses in the Kennedy/Kimball TIF District when it opened in October, resulting in nine businesses applying for grants that can be used for permanent building improvements. In addition, we helped Lucas Tire & Autocare and Hyun’s Hapkido and Taekwondo School complete SBIF projects in 2023.
5. During Manufacturing Month in October, the City of Chicago recognized Horween Leather Company (2015 N. Elston) with a Legacy Industrial Business Award. A fifth-generation industrial business, Horween Leather has made fine leather goods since 1905. Please see this dynamic video for an overview of the company.
6. Our Small Accessible Repairs for Seniors Program continues to improve the quality of life for senior citizens in Chicago. Despite some unexpected administrative challenges, we completed twenty home repairs. Our team is positioned to have a major, positive impact on seniors in 2024.
7. As a delegate agency for the Nonprofit Capacity Building Program, NBW expanded its support services to nonprofits in Chicago in 2023. We hosted webinars, connected nonprofits to available grants, launched a webpage with resources for nonprofits, and hired Genevieve Cook to lead this program.
8. We held engaging community events to promote businesses and our service area including a bike tour, brewery and distillery tour, and a boat tour. Stay tuned for opportunities to see the North Branch and visit our businesses in 2024.
9. The restaurant sector is thriving in the North Branch. Boulevard Bistro and Trogo Kitchen & Market opened; Thattu was recognized on the New York Times list of Top 50 restaurants nationwide. Soul and Smoke received a grant to fully build out its restaurant at 3057 N. Rockwell. And Brothers Restaurant (3000 W. Belmont Avenue) added a sidewalk café.
10. NBW’s Fall Festival celebrated industrial and small businesses in the North Branch. We recognized Bigane Paving Company with our Industrial Business of the Year and Hyun’s Hapkido and Taekwondo School with our Small Business of the Year Award. NBW Board Member and Chicago Scenic Studios Chairman Bob Doepel received our 2nd Annual Donna Ducharme Leadership Award.
Thank you to our members and supporters for a productive, fun, and informative year.