Tag: Industrial businesses

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

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.

Nine businesses apply to SBIF in North Branch South

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

For these reasons, we’re thrilled that nine businesses located in the North Branch South TIF District, including Gabriel Environmental Services (pictured above), applied for a SBIF grant when the opportunity opened in March.

SBIF provides reimbursable grants to businesses for permanent building repairs and improvements. The program is open to commercial and industrial businesses. SBIF funds can be used to pay for 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 the North Branch South TIF, including highlighting it in three e-newsletters, making phone calls, and sending emails and letters encouraging eligible businesses to apply.

Guild Row, previous SBIF recipient in the Addison South TIF District

It’s great that many of these businesses in the North Branch South TIF will receive grants; the strong interest in SBIF will help us make the case the City of Chicago should invest more money in the program in the next cycle.

Please keep in mind that North Branch Works’ low-interest Small Business Loan program can be leveraged so your business doesn’t have to find financing or divert working capital for your project. And in some cases, we may be able to make a loan greater than your SBIF award.

Because SBIF is reimbursable, businesses are required to pay for the project up front and then submit documents to SomerCor, the program administrator, to receive reimbursement.

In the past year, North Branch Works made a low-interest loan to a member business that received a SBIF grant; the business carried out its improvement project immediately and then repaid the loan when it received its SBIF grant.

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:

  • Western Avenue South in June of 2021
  • 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 Western Avenue South in June of 2021.

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

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

Image credit: Gabriel Environmental Services

Image credit: Guild Row

Bigane Paving connects the Chicago region

Since 1985, Anne Bigane Wilson has led Bigane Paving, a fourth generation-owned asphalt company, turning it into a major asset in the Chicago region.

Founded in 1907 by John Bigane, the business initially started as a retail coal and oil supplier. In the late 1950’s, the company added asphalt to balance out the seasonal nature of fuel delivery; over time, the demand for asphalt grew and became the company’s primary product offering.

Today, Bigane Paving serves the Chicago region through its high-quality work on infrastructure improvements, streetscapes, and street and parking lot resurfacing and replacement projects.

The company’s central location (935 W. Chestnut Street) just west of Goose Island among similar land uses provides it with safe and easy access to the city and suburbs. It’s a great example of a thriving industrial company whose future North Branch Works is working hard to protect through our advocacy and by monitoring zoning changes.

In addition to providing valuable services, the company employs approximately twenty people in permanent high-quality jobs and its seasonal staff can reach close to 100 at its peak.

Most of the firm’s business comes from winning city and state project contracts. Remarkably, the company has paved 1,500 miles of streets.

Some of Bigane Paving’s high-profile projects include paving the 606/Bloomingdale Trail as well as bike lanes in the City of Chicago’s Streets for Cycling 2020 Plan and resurfacing the North Avenue Bridge

In 2018, Bigane Paving won the Chicago Department of Transportation’s Contractor of the Year Award for resurfacing North and Southbound Lake Shore Drive between Grand Avenue and Monroe Drive.

Although most of its work comes from public contracts, the business also excels in working with the private sector, having completed successful projects with many religious and scholastic institutions.

And much of the firm’s success is due to the innovation of its leader, Anne Bigane Wilson. A major success during her tenure was the purchase of Ogden Avenue Materials, a manufacturing operation, that allowed the company to expand and serve the entire Chicago region.

Within the industry, Anne is well-known for her ability to work well with the many diverse stakeholders who play important roles in construction projects. Her customers praise her for her detailed approach that consistently delivers projects on time and budget.

During Women’s History Month, North Branch Works is celebrating our women-owned business members. We’re honored to recognize Anne Bigane Wilson for the many contributions she’s made to Bigane Paving, North Branch Works, and Chicagoland.

If you’d like to connect with Bigane Paving, please reach out to info@biganepaving.com

Image credits: Bigane Paving