Tag: Goose Island

Halsted Pointe project comes before Plan Commission on Aug. 26th

This week, the Chicago Plan Commission will review a zoning change request for the Halsted Pointe megadevelopment project proposed by Onni Group at 901 N. Halsted Street.

Formerly a Greyhound bus maintenance facility, the project features the construction of five towers ranging in height from 309 to 691 feet on the southern tip of Goose Island.

The towers would add 2,650 new residential units, 300 hotels rooms, a grocery, an outdoor market, and a new pedestrian bridge across the North Branch Canal connecting to 600 W. Chicago Avenue.

North Branch Works has some concerns about the project, most notably limited transportation options in the area and its close proximity to industrial companies.

Our letter to the Chicago Plan Commission highlights these and other concerns.

At the same time, we appreciate that Onni Group modified its original plan based upon input it received after doing outreach to nearby industrial companies.

Our member businesses on Goose Island and in the surrounding area have achieved great success and continue to provide high-quality jobs because they can plan for and rely upon compatible surrounding land uses.

If approved by the Plan Commission and City Council, North Branch Works will work closely with Onni Group, Alderman Walter Burnett (27th Ward), and the Chicago Department of Planning and Development to ensure the project succeeds.

We are pleased that Onni Group will be required to submit traffic studies at each plan review.

Indeed, if the plan is approved, we urge the Chicago Department of Planning and Development to do a comprehensive transportation plan for Goose Island that includes promoting alternative modes of getting around including walking, biking, and public transit.

Such a plan would ensure necessary infrastructure improvements can be identified and built that address the needs of new residents as well as existing industrial companies.

One way to follow the progress of Halsted Pointe is to tune into the virtual Chicago Plan Commission meeting on Thursday, August 26th at 9 a.m. by going here.

You can also send written comments about the project here up to twenty-four hours in advance of the meeting.

North Branch Works will continue to monitor the progress of Halsted Pointe and keep you updated.

With questions and comments, please contact Steve Simmons, Director of Business and Economic Development, at 773-929-5552 x2226 or steve@northbranchworks.org

Image credit: Onni Group

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

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

Essanay Studio & Lighting celebrates 25 years on Goose Island

A fixture on Chicago’s Goose Island, Essanay Studio and Lighting helps clients shoot dynamic commercials, TV shows, and movies by supplying world-class studios and equipment.

Founded in 1919, the business occupied several locations in Chicago, including the famous Essanay Film Manufacturing Company stage, before moving to Goose Island in 1996.

Today, Essanay Studio and Lighting rents sound studios and equipment for stage shoots as well as location production such as lights, stands, camera dollies, grip trucks and generators to various production companies.

Some of the company’s high-profile clients include McDonald’s, Apple, General Motors, State Farm and Winnebago. Essanay also provided the equipment and behind-the-scenes expertise for the Showtime hit series, Shameless, and Meet the Maddons, a promotional Winnebago ad series featuring former Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon.

The company’s Goose Island facility (1346 N North Branch) is a great example of adaptive reuse; Essanay converted a former food production company building and additional new construction into a space featuring two sound stages, dressing rooms, production areas and an equipment storage building.

One of the best parts of Essanay’s work is the variety that comes with each job. Every client has different equipment and preparation needs. For example, commercials may require one-to-two weeks to identify props and a shooting location whereas movies can, in general, take three-to-four weeks to do similar preparation before filming.

Along with making major contributions to Chicago as a business and employer, one of Essanay’s partners, Wayne Kubacki–who recently retired–was a founding member of The Illinois Production Alliance (IPA). The IPA was specifically formed with the goal of fighting for policies that made Illinois an attractive place to do filmmaking.

The IPA’s advocacy resulted in the passage of the Illinois Film Tax Credit, an incredible win because production companies often locate their productions wherever they can take advantage of the best tax credits.

Essanay moved to Goose Island due to its central location in Chicago and the property being located in a Planned Manufacturing District, knowing that it would be surrounded by compatible land uses and ensuring that Essanay could deliver to its clients spaces that can be used as intended. This includes recording sound for motion pictures; Essanay’s success depends on its ability to provide these spaces without nearby conflicting land uses.

North Branch Works is proud to have Essanay Studio & Lighting as a member and congratulate the business on its twenty-fifth-year anniversary on Goose Island.

To connect with Essanay Studio & Lighting, please reach out to: info@essanay.com

Image credits: Essanay Studio & Lighting Company

Goose Island Summit highlights need for infrastructure upgrades

In carrying out its valuable role as a planned manufacturing district, Goose Island makes a major contribution to the well-being of Chicago’s economy.

A manmade island with a rich industrial legacy, Goose Island is approximately 160 acres and runs in the Chicago River from Chicago Avenue to North Avenue.

To ensure Goose Island remains a vibrant place to work and do business, North Branch Works recently convened the 2nd Annual Goose Island Summit, bringing together nearly forty businesses with city leaders, including 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett and Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Samir Mayekar, along with representatives from DPD, CDOT, and CTA, to identify top priorities and action steps.

Although the one-hour dialogue covered many topics, businesses consistently identified the urgent need for infrastructure upgrades that create safe access to and from Goose Island as well as the immediate surrounding neighborhood areas.

Participants heard updates from ongoing and future planned projects such as:

  • The removal of train tracks on Cherry St. between North Branch Street and the dead end at the north end of the island
  • The replacement of the Division Street Bridge, a vital connector for goods and services across the island, and installation of a new stop sign.
  • The ridership levels that would be required for the Chicago Transit Authority to resume the CTA #132 Goose Island Express Bus.

With new companies expected to move to Goose Island, there’ll be tremendous demand for alternative modes of transportation such as walking and biking and fast and reliable bus service.

And we know investments in infrastructure will return tremendous economic development benefits, especially on Goose Island, which is home to major companies and family-owned businesses including Mars Wrigley, Waste Management, MxD, FedEx, Amazon, Calihan Catering, and Gold Coast Auto Body.

And by attracting and retaining industrial businesses, Goose Island ensures that high-quality jobs with family-sustaining wages that require only middle skills are available to all Chicagoans.

As a significant part of our service area, North Branch Works is dedicated to serving and advocating for the business community on Goose Island so it can continue to offer high-quality jobs and serve as a major contributor to healthy neighborhoods.

With questions and to get involved in moving this work forward, please contact Steve Simmons, Director of Business and Economic Development, 773-929-5552 x2226, steve@northbranchworks.org

Image credit: Port Urbanism

Support Calihan Catering

Not all business models are adaptable during a pandemic.

And that’s especially true for small businesses like Calihan Catering whose model depends upon large events bringing together between two and five thousand people.

A family-owned, multi-generational small business, Calihan Catering opened in 1985 when founder John Calihan launched the company. And for over twenty years, the firm has been located on Goose Island, offering easy access to the central business district and the north side.

The company’s facility features an eight thousand sq. foot state-of-the-art kitchen and a twenty thousand sq. foot breathtaking event space, Gallery 1028 (pictured below).

As the firm grew over the years, it developed a specialty in carrying out large events successfully. Some of Calihan’s high profile clients include the N.F.L. Draft, Gourmet Chicago, Butterfly Ball, Field Museum, Civic Opera House, and recently the James Beard Awards–the preeminent awards for the restaurant and food industry.

Along with providing high-quality food and entertainment, Calihan Catering employed 176 people in good jobs with family-sustaining wages. Sadly, because of the pandemic, the company has been forced to furlough many of its employees and operate at 15% capacity.

Despite these challenges, the Calihan family has prioritized public health during these uncertain times and will not promote large gatherings until they can be held safely.

And the family has also decided not to compete with local restaurants who are already stretched-thin trying to make ends meet through delivery and pickup services.

Because many weddings and large events have been postponed indefinitely, it’s uncertain if business will pick up in 2021. And while you might hear about city, state, and federal governments offering financial assistance to small businesses, the inability to plan for 2021 remains a major barrier.

Chicago remains a vibrant city in large part because we have a diverse range of neighborhood businesses offering specialized products and experiences.

And that’s why North Branch Works is deeply committed to supporting members like Calihan and creating an environment where businesses can thrive and offer good jobs with family-sustaining wages.

In these challenging times, we urge our members to support each other by coming together as a community and keeping business local. We encourage you to explore business-to-business opportunities, consider formal partnerships, or ask for referrals within our network–there’s really no limit to the ways we can partner together.

And if you’d like to connect with fellow members, North Branch Works would love to help you. With questions, please contact Steve Simmons, 773-929-5552 x2226, steve@northbranchworks.org

For high-quality catering and entertainment services, please contact Nash Calihan and his team at 312-587-3553 and/or visit: calihancatering.com/inquire-1.

Image credits: Calihan Catering