Tag: Jobs

City should evaluate bars and taprooms based on compliance

Citing an increase in positive coronavirus cases, Mayor Lightfoot recently decided to eliminate indoor service at bars and taprooms operating without a food license.

While we appreciate Mayor Lightfoot’s data-driven leadership during the pandemic, North Branch Works sees this decision as a one-size-fits-all policy approach that unfairly groups all bars and taprooms in the same category.

Instead, we urge Mayor Lightfoot to make compliance with COVID-19 regulations the deciding factor in whether or not bars and taprooms can offer indoor service.

Because of our strong relationships with bars and taprooms in our service area, we know they are highly committed to the health, safety, and welfare of their employees and patrons. And just as important, they have the capacity to carry out these services in a safe and responsible manner.

North Branch Works’ letter to Mayor Lightfoot highlights these and other points.

Chicago remains a vibrant city in large part because of our diverse range of small businesses like neighborhood taverns and bars. Not only do these establishments strengthen communities through jobs and economic development, they also make important cultural contributions.

There’s no question that positive cases are increasing in certain zip codes. But it’s difficult to understand the rationale for closing all bars and taprooms across the city during a time when there’s overwhelming demand for jobs and economic development.

And we see establishments without food licenses as opportunities to encourage creative entrepreneurship with food-based businesses. For example, many small family-owned businesses like Calihan Catering are facing unprecedented challenges, so we could advance polices that foster partnerships between businesses with mutual needs.

And that’s exactly the type of partnership that we’re working hard to build along the North Branch by advancing policies that make it a premier area to do business and work, connecting members with each other, and sustaining new businesses.

North Branch Works stands ready to support Mayor Lightfoot and Members of City Council as we work toward a safe and healthy economic recovery.

Victory for bars and taprooms

In a major win for bars and taprooms, Mayor Lori Lightfoot allowed establishments that serve alcohol only to re-open on June 17. Prior to this time, these businesses were unable to re-open under the City of Chicago’s Phase Three Reopening Plan.

North Branch Works and our members successfully advocated for this policy change, pointing out that Chicago is home to more breweries than any other city in the country and highlighting the many ways they support the local economy, jobs, and vibrancy of our neighborhoods.

We also had confidence that bars and taprooms with a track record of success could easily comply with COVID-19 guidelines such as social distancing, limiting the number of seated patrons, and providing laminated menus.

North Branch Works’ letter to Mayor Lightfoot highlights these and other important points.

We applaud Mayor Lightfoot’s decision to allow taprooms and breweries to re-open and are committed to working with establishments who prioritize the health and safety of their patrons.

This policy win is a great reminder that persistent advocacy yields results. And it also demonstrates the type of advocacy we can do with elected officials to support you and your business.

We recognize that running a small business in the best of times comes with many challenges, including often a limited-capacity to influence the business climate around you.

If you can, please consider joining North Branch Works as a dues-paying member. And please let us know if there are any policy changes that we can advance that can help you achieve success.

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

Image credit: Maplewood Brewery and Distillery

Community council advising Sterling Bay & city on Lincoln Yards

North Branch Works (NBW) is honored to have been selected as a community representative for the Lincoln Yards Community Advisory Council (LYCAC), which held its first meeting on June 15.

Lincoln Yards is a 55-acre, mixed-use development project (pictured) along the North Branch of the Chicago River that will run between North and Webster Avenues and across parts of Bucktown and Lincoln Park.

The purpose of LYCAC is to engage with the City of Chicago and Sterling Bay, the developer of Lincoln Yards, on a regular and consistent basis to review project status, including infrastructure design and serve as a community conduit for project concerns. The 14-member council includes four members from the 2nd Ward Zoning Board, three Lincoln Park/Bucktown community members, and subject matter experts in infrastructure, housing, planning, economic development, minority and women business enterprise participation, Tax Increment Financing, open space and the environment.

The meeting enabled council members to meet with each other and become acquainted with the developers and city officials who brought the project forward after approval of the North Branch Framework Plan. After presentations from Sterling Bay and the City of Chicago, members were able to ask questions and talk about their concerns which stimulated a productive dialogue.

Going forward, the council will meet quarterly with city officials and Sterling Bay to advise on various aspects of the project such as transportation, land use, open space, and business recruitment. Throughout the three-year commitment to participate on the council, NBW will advocate for the creation of living-wage job opportunities, especially opportunities that do not require an advanced degree. In order to make job opportunities accessible to all Chicagoans, NBW will push for investments in public transit options that help people get to places of employment safely and easily. These investments are critical to ensure traffic congestion does not increase with new development.

Although Lincoln Yards was approved as a Planned Development and TIF District in 2019, the role of LYCAC will be to advise Sterling Bay and the city on ways it can implement a project that’s mindful of adjacent communities and addresses community concerns. NBW appreciates the responsibility it has to ensure this project strengthens residential communities, supports business opportunities and entrepreneurship, and creates jobs accessible to people throughout Chicago.

Do you have ideas and/or concerns about Lincoln Yards that you’d like advisory council to address? Please contact Jonathan Snyder, Executive Director, at 773-929-5552, jonathan@northbranchworks.org

Image credits: Sterling Bay