Tag: Jobs

Apply for a low-interest business loan from North Branch Works

Having access to North Branch Works’ low-interest business loan fund is a valuable benefit we provide to our members.

Our mission is to strengthen economic development in our service area by helping businesses get started, grow, and expand so they can provide high-quality jobs to Chicagoans.

Toward that end, we have a microloan fund that can make loans of up to $25,000 to startup companies and up to $50,000 to existing businesses.

Our interest rates range from 2-8% and the term ranges from 6-36 months with a small 2% closing cost. In some cases such as when a business has received a Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) award, we can make loans above these limits.

Because SBIF projects must be financed by a business before it can submit for reimbursement from the City of Chicago, our loan fund is a great way to avoid diverting capital or taking out a loan from another lender at a higher interest rate.

Loans from North Branch Works can be used for business purposes such as purchasing equipment and inventory, customizing and repairing your physical space, and working capital.

The primary goal of our loan fund is to help businesses grow and expand while incurring the lowest possible costs. For example, let’s say a business in our service area needs to make $17,000 worth of improvements to a physical space before it can move into our area and open.

The business could apply to our loan fund; for the sake of this example, let’s assume our loan fund committee reviews and approves the loan at 2%. We can issue the check immediately. At this rate, it would cost the company $340 to borrow $17,000 and the 2% APR would be amortized over the term of the loan.

And if your business needs a loan that is larger than what we can offer, we’d love to connect you to other lenders in our network like Allies for Community Business and LISC Chicago.

Coming out of the pandemic, North Branch Works would like to see our resources deployed in our service area and positioning our members for present and future success.

Currently, we have a goal of making two low-interest loans by the end of 2021. For more information, please see our business loan fund one-pager.

With questions and to express interest in applying to our business loan fund, please contact Steve Simmons at 773-929-5552 x2226 or steve@northbranchworks.org.

SR Solutions Inc. joins North Branch Works

A family-owned construction business, SR Solutions Inc. helps commercial and residential clients improve their quality of life by completing projects using high-quality sustainable materials.

Located in North Center, the company offers a wide range of full interior remodeling services including customizing offices, small restaurant spaces, kitchens, bathrooms, and basements.

For over twenty-two years, the owner, Stoyan Rizov (pictured above with NBW staff Steve Simmons), has completed incredible remodeling projects using reclaimed materials across the Chicago region from Northbrook to the South Loop.

His company grew out of his passion for the building trades at an early age. Because he grew up in an artistic family, it was natural for the company to combine high-quality craftsmanship with innovative design services.

As someone who loves the City of Chicago, Stoyan prides himself on providing customers with honest advice and helping them make the best choices according to their needs. He knows his customers are counting on him to pay close attention to details and complete the project on budget.

Indeed, the company has never received a complaint from a client in its fourteen-year history.

SR Solutions can repair masonry, remove pesticides and mold, fix leaky faucets, install doors, and fix or replace HVAC building systems. There’s really no project that is too big or small for the company.

Hiring SR Solutions for your project is a great way to support a local family-owned business and jobs along the North Branch. In order to complete larger projects, the company partners with window crews, demolition teams, designers, and a kitchen cabinet company.

In a typical year, SR Solutions finishes between twenty to twenty-five projects because the business prioritizes carrying out high-quality work over doing a large volume of projects. And usually that focus results in the company completing about two projects per month.

Currently, SR Solutions is hiring skilled remodelers and general laborers. If you or someone in your network would like to find out more information and apply, please call 773-799-6560.

North Branch Works is thrilled to welcome SR Solutions as a new member business.  If you’ve been thinking about and/or putting off a repair project, we highly recommend making an appointment with SR Solutions Inc.

We would also like to recognize Marina Rizova, Designer and Sustainability Director, for her leadership and service on our Board of Directors.

Stoyan Rizov would like to network with his fellow North Branch Works members. With questions and to reach out to him, please call 773-799-6560.

Image credits: SR Solutions Inc.

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

Bike the North Branch on August 7th

Join us for a leisurely bike tour of the North Branch on Saturday, August 7th from 10 a.m. to noon.

The tour includes stops at incredible destinations in our service area including Morton Salt (pictured above), the Hideout, Guild Row, Rockwell on the River, Green Exchange, and Ravinia Brewing.

We’ll hear from business owners and talk about the area’s rich industrial history and future plans.

For most of the roughly five-mile bike ride, we’ll use bike lanes on Elston Avenue.

We’ll meet at the Morton Salt project site located at 1357 N. Elston Avenue. The ride will end at Ravinia Brewing Company’s new taproom in Logan Square (2601 W. Diversey Avenue) near the CTA’s #76 Diversey Bus stop.

This is a great way to learn more about local businesses, their plans for re-opening, and how we can support them.

Please register here with a suggested donation of $20. Proceeds support the neighborhood economic development work of North Branch Works.

With questions and for more information, please contact Steve Simmons at 773-929-5552 x2226 or steve@northbranchworks.org

                                        

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

North Branch Works mourns the passing of Kevin Clark at Logan & Western

The viability of Chicago’s industrial and commercial corridors relies upon people having safe and easy access to them regardless of how they choose to travel to, from, and within these important areas.

North Branch Works is deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Kevin Clark in a crash while riding his bike at Logan Boulevard and Western Avenue, a notoriously dangerous intersection in our service area for all transportation users.

We stand with Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Active Transportation Alliance, and Kevin Clark’s family and friends in calling on our elected officials to build safety improvements immediately at Logan and Western.

It’s clear that the intersection of Logan and Western is broken and has been neglected for far too long. We can’t wait any longer for safety upgrades that will save lives and strengthen neighborhoods and local businesses.

The commercial area on Logan Boulevard east of Western Avenue is a vibrant economic hub with people frequently traveling to and from it for work and to purchase goods and services.

In 2018, the Active Transportation Alliance worked with Logan Square Neighborhood Association to develop a variety of community-informed recommendations to improve the intersection (see image right), including adding a protected bike lane, improving lighting and the timing of traffic signals, and installing a new crosswalk on the south side of Logan across Western.

If you live in Chicago, please take a moment to sign this petition calling on Mayor Lightfoot and your alderman to fix Logan and Western and make streets safer for biking across the city.

The family of Kevin Clark, Active Transportation Alliance, and Chicago Ride of Silence will hold a vigil and press conference on Saturday, June 12th at 10 a.m. at the Logan Square Monument.

If you plan to attend, please RSVP to the Facebook event.

Image credits: Active Transportation Alliance and Port Urbanism

Ravinia Brewing opens new taproom in Logan Square

A family-friendly establishment, Ravinia Brewing’s new taproom recently opened in Logan Square, adding an incredible destination where you can enjoy innovative craft beers and freshly made Mexican street fare.

Located at 2601 W. Diversey Avenue in between the Green Exchange and the Kennedy Expressway, the much-anticipated opening comes two years after the business began brewing beer on this site.

A relative newcomer to the thriving craft beer scene, Ravinia Brewing began distribution in 2017, growing out of the Ravinia District in Highland Park where the company opened its first location, an award-winning taproom and taco bar.

The menu at the new taproom features a variety of mouth-watering Mexican street food such as hand-pressed tortillas and tacos (see below left) along with breakfast burritos, bowls, salads, and dynamic vegetarian options.

And the beer selection is an amazing compliment to the food offerings. Some of the available beers include the Diversey Station, a session pale ale, and small-batch limited releases such as the Isle of Hops, a hazy IPA, and Casa de Guava, a Berliner Weisse.

The new taproom has a creative floorplan with window swings, intimate booths, bar service, and retractable garage doors. The design reflects Ravinia Brewing’s strong commitment to protecting the health and safety of its customers as well as its three core pillars of “Community, Craft, and Creation.”

If you visit the taproom, you can take comfort knowing the company is following strict COVID-19 protocols including requiring masks, social distancing, and providing hand sanitizer.

The new space also includes Chicago history as the bar dates back to a pre-Prohibition establishment located at Diversey Avenue and Halsted Street.

And you can escape behind the taproom to a hidden beer garden decorated with string lights and barrels. The garden offers plenty of room to enjoy late night entertainment and host private events.

Getting to Ravinia Brewing’s new location is relatively easy via public transportation as you can hop on the CTA’s #76 Diversey Bus, which will drop you off in front of the taproom. And the brewpub is within walking distance for most residents of Avondale and Logan Square.

For people driving, it’s easy to get to the taproom from the Kennedy Expressway. There’s a small private parking lot on the south side of Diversey Avenue just east of the business and street parking nearby.

Currently, the new brewpub is open: Tuesday through Thursday from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

North Branch Works members and supporters can help Ravinia Brewing Company by visiting the taproom frequently. You can also purchase beer to go in person.

Please follow Ravinia Brewing on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Sign up for the latest news and specials here.

We’re thrilled to welcome Ravinia Brewing Company to the neighborhood and look forward to supporting the company’s continued success and growth.

With questions and to connect with Ravinia Brewing, please contact: info@raviniabrewing.com

Image credits: Ravinia Brewing Company

 

 

The Alley Chicago celebrates its 45th year anniversary in June

After developing an interest in business as a high school student at Holy Name Cathedral, Mark Thomas launched the Alley Chicago, an iconic family-owned business that served Lakeview for over forty years at Belmont Avenue and Clark Street.

Last year, the business moved to Avondale and is now located at 2620 W. Fletcher Street (pictured above). A retail and manufacturing operation, the Alley Chicago designs and sells counter-culture leather, footwear, jewelry, belt buckles, and t-shirts.

It’s well-known for its vast collection of Goth, Punk, Metal, Motorcycle, and Chicago merchandise. The business also carries a wide variety of products so it’s a great place to look for and purchase items—especially as we look for opportunities to support small businesses during the pandemic.

On June 6, 2021, the Alley Chicago will celebrate its 45th anniversary in business. Stay tuned for more details about how you can celebrate this remarkable achievement.

The Alley Chicago prides itself on being a safe and accepting environment for people of all backgrounds and lifestyle orientations. Recently, the business sponsored a transgender and gender fluid fashion show at Water Tower Place.

And while many of its customers experienced being judged by society for being different, they reported feeling welcomed, accepted, and valued at the Alley Chicago.

Over the course of its history, the business has employed 3,000 people in good jobs where they learned essential skills like how to manage the store, make purchasing decisions, and evaluate inventory. Encouraging entrepreneurship has always been an important goal of the owner, Mark Thomas.

Indeed, seeing about three hundred employees return to the business unexpectedly during a store closing in 2016 and learning many of them had started their own businesses is a development that Thomas considers to be one of his greatest achievements.

Currently, the business has a staff of ten people due to a major part of its business shifting to online sales.

In addition to serving as an attractive neighborhood destination, the business supports the artist community by providing approximately one hundred and twenty loft studio work spaces via its sister business, the Art Colony.

The Alley Chicago is currently open and following all of the COVID-19 protocols including mask-wearing, social distancing, and providing hand sanitizer.

North Branch Works members and supporters can help the Alley Chicago by visiting regularly. You can also pick up the latest merchandise from its online store.

Please follow the business on Twitter and Facebook.

We’re excited to work with the Alley Chicago and businesses in the thriving Belmont Avenue/Rockwell Street district to ensure the area remains a great place to work and do business.

North Branch Works is pleased to welcome the business as a new member. With questions and to connect with the Alley Chicago, please reach out to Mark Thomas, mark@thealley.com

The Hideout poised for reopening

A family-owned business, beloved bar, and live music venue along the North Branch of the Chicago River, the Hideout has a long history of bringing people together as a community, serving as a launching pad for bands, and providing respite to industrial business workers.

Located at 1354 W. Wabansia Avenue (see below left), the Hideout is a two-story, balloon frame house that was built by immigrants during the 1860s—a time when industrial workers scraped together materials to build cottages around the Chicago River that supported the thriving steel mills.

From its birth, the Hideout has always been an instrumental part of the North Branch community. People come together at the Hideout and encourage each other to take chances and pursue their dreams—whether it be starting a band, organizing for a more equitable Chicago, or planning a campaign for alderman.

Some of the high-profile musicians who’ve played at the Hideout include Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), Jeff Glenn Kotche (Wilco), John Stirratt (Wilco and Autumn Defense), Mavis Staples (The Staples Singers), Jack White (White Stripes), and Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins).

In addition to being a popular neighborhood destination, the Hideout employs thirty-four people in high-quality jobs. Part-time staff earn good wages that provide them the flexibility to string together opportunities and succeed in today’s gig economy.

The current owners, Tim and Katie Tuten, along with running the Hideout, have played a major role in organizing efforts to improve the quality of life in Chicago. Katie spearheaded the creation of the Chicago Independent Venues League (CIVL), which came together to advocate for small venues to ensure they are recognized for their many contributions to Chicago’s music scene.

Today, CIVL represents over forty independent venues in the City of Chicago.

And during the COVID-19 pandemic, Katie had a prominent role in the #SaveOurStages campaign that pushed the federal government to provide financial assistance to small independent venues. In partnership with Congressman Mike Quigley, this effort scored a major victory in the American Rescue Plan Act, which created a federal grant opportunity for closed venues, the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant.

North Branch Works would also like to congratulate Katie Tuten on receiving the 2021 Nonprofit Board Member of the Year Award for her work with BandWith, a nonprofit that covers the costs of musical instruments and instruction for under-resourced schools on Chicago’s West Side.

The Hideout is a great example of how neighborhood businesses can thrive in partnership with industrial companies with informed land use planning, which is a top advocacy priority of North Branch Works.

Tim and Katie made the difficult decision to close the Hideout during the pandemic; the business has been shut down since March of 2020. However, we’re thrilled the Hideout is on track to open for outdoor music on its front porch during the summer and has a tentative plan to welcome people indoors in the fall.

North Branch Works members and supporters can help the Hideout by visiting regularly when it opens. In the meantime, please purchase tickets to its incredible virtual events. You can also pick up the latest merchandise from the Hideout’s online store.

North Branch Works is grateful to count the Hideout as a longtime member and to Tim and Katie Tuten for their service on our Board of Directors.

If you’d like to connect with the Hideout, please call 773-227-4433.

Image credits: The Hideout

Howe Corporation preserving our food supply chain

Seeing a need for innovation in the refrigeration industry, William Henry Howe founded Howe Corporation in Chicago in 1912, designing equipment that popularized the use of “artificial ice.”

Today, Howe Corporation is a fourth generation, woman-owned business that manufactures and sells refrigeration equipment at its facility located at 1650 N. Elston Avenue. The company produces approximately 1,000 units in a typical year; they range in daily ice production from 1,000 to 20,000 lbs.

Along with being highly productive, these machines are environmentally sustainable, a core value of Howe Corporation. With proper maintenance, the company’s ice flaker machines (see below right) can last over 10 years in the retail supermarket and over 20 years in the industrial food processing market.

Energy Star recognized Howe Corporation’s commitment to the environment, presenting the company with a 2019 Excellence in Design Award and Partner of the Year Award for 2020 & 2021. Many of the company’s ice flaker machines have been Energy Star certified.

It’s ideal to use flake ice to preserve food because it has the most surface area contact of any form of ice and provides the greatest cooling capacity. Flake ice easily molds around the product to cool even more efficiently.

Customers use #HoweIce to preserve food along every step in the supply chain from field to table and sea to plate. And having a safe and reliable food supply chain has been incredibly important during the pandemic.

Howe Corporation prides itself on providing high quality customer service and has built many long-term relationships with clients, some of whom have been customers for over thirty years. With export offices in Costa Rica and Mexico, the company is well-known in Latin America.

Some of Howe Corporation’s high-profile clients include Whole Foods, Panera Bread, Wegmans, Concool, and the Seattle Fish Company. And you can find Howe’s machines in over fifty of the top one-hundred supermarket chains in the U.S. and over 100 countries globally.

The company’s product line includes ice flaker machines, condensing units, ice storage bins, filtration systems and accessories. Howe Corporation is a great example of how manufacturing continues to thrive in Chicago and has pivoted from large companies to mid-size and smaller firms.

Currently, Howe Corporation employs a workforce of thirty people in high quality jobs–many of which do not require an advanced degree. And by participating in the City of Chicago’s TIF 50/50 pilot program last year, Howe Corporation was able to hire during the pandemic as well as upgrade the skills of its incumbent workers.

The company’s strong commitment to the Chicago region is reflected in its support of area organizations. In addition to being a member of North Branch Works, the President of Howe Corporation serves as the Board Chair for Jane Adams Resource Corporation (JARC), a provider of high-quality skills training and support services to low-income and unemployed Chicagoans.

Howe Corporation is WBE certified and obtained its Women-Owned Small Business certification (WOSB) from the federal government. This designation will help the company continue to break down barriers within the refrigeration and cooling industry, apply for federal contracts, and connect with other businesses seeking to diversify their supply chains.

Please support Howe Corporation by following and liking the company on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

To connect with Howe Corporation, please reach out to: howeinfo@howecorp.com

Image credits: Howe Corporation