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CSEDC Fall Quarterly Forum – Whole Foods inspires hope

From left: Alsip Mayor John Ryan, CSEDC Board Chairman Mike Scholefield and CSEDC/SSMMA Deputy Executive Director of Economic Development Reggie Greenwood

The Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation’s 2017 Fall Quarterly Forum was held on Oct. 25 at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Alsip, and hosted by Alsip Mayor John Ryan. Nearly 150 attended the event.

Mayor Ryan brought news of the village’s TIF districts. The Economic Development Committee, with assistance of the finance director, identified a TIF that was scheduled for retirement, he said. They moved its remaining funds to Pulaski Road, Alsip’s main street. Also, the funds are being used to repave the streets and curbs at the Deer Park & Arbor Glen sub-division and provide partial funding to help re-open a Checkers restaurant.

Alsip has also used TIF funds to acquire property at 117th & Pulaski and bundle them in an effort to offer larger parcels to developers. The TIF gives the village the tools for a competitive opportunity to attract new businesses, create jobs, generate sales taxes, and promote annual events, such as “Holiday on Pulaski.” In addition, the village board has recently authorized a $604,000 TIF surplus to the taxing bodies.

Below are highlights from the forum’s presentations.

DL3 Realty Manager Leon Walker inspired forum attendees with updates on the new Englewood Square development featuring a Whole Foods Market, as well as a Starbucks and Chipotle store. The development has spurred a reversal of times. Just a couple years ago, local residents and nearby Kennedy-King students and faculty would have to shop for food and other items in other communities. Now, people from far and wide come to Englewood. Like it was many years ago, Englewood is fast becoming a destination shopping venue.

The 5.5 acre development site is part of a larger 13-acre Halsted Parkway development that is the former location of the Englewood Mall.  In 1920, the intersection of W. 63rd and S. Halsted Streets was the second busiest commercial district in City of Chicago second only to the downtown Loop. Additional Halsted Parkway Development plans extend into the Woodlawn community and include a Jewel Osco store and several mixed use developments.

“Most developers start with a project idea and seek out a location that fits the project parameters,” Mr. Walker said. “At DL3 Realty, we have a different vision. As community developers, we start with the community. We begin by asking ‘what does this neighborhood need?’ This fundamental shift in thinking frames our entire perspective.”

We seek first to serve the needs of local residents by bringing desired projects to underserved communities, Leon added. This type of community development often involves partners and the coordination of multiple funding sources. We work with community development corporations, local non-profit organizations, and governmental entities to bring dynamic retail, institutional and professional office projects to Chicago’s urban communities.

Cook County Economic Development Bureau Chief Michael Jasso shared updates on the upcoming South Suburban Economic Growth Initiative Phase 2. Cook County has designated economic development in the South Suburbs as a priority and has just completed a Phase 1 scan which reveals many opportunities to leverage the South Suburbs’ assets for growth, and the foundation for a much more extensive Phase 2 planning strategy. Mr. Jasso presented a summary of their findings and outlined a set of strategies for enhancing Cook County’s South Suburbs as communities of opportunity and choice.

The South Suburbs once drove the regional economy, he said. Now, they continue to have key assets, but have some of the poorest parts of Cook County. Development efforts are underway, but remain fragmented. This means we need large scale, comprehensive, long term strategic investment in inventing the next generation of inclusive economic development capacities and enterprises. A related story from a recent presentation in Flossmoor is here. Click here for Mike’s presentation slides.

Gallagher Asphalt and Paving President Charlie Gallagher shared how his company uses state-of-the-art technology to create the highest quality mixes for paving. Gallagher uses drones, GPS systems, robotics and much more to stay on the cutting edge for public and private customers.  Smart technology is creating safer and smoother paving solutions in our region. Charlie’s presentation slides are available here.

CSEDC/SSMMA Deputy Executive Director of Economic Development Reggie Greenwood provided updates on this year’s Manufacturing Day, an integrated education, workforce, and economic development program. This event connected high schools to manufacturing companies through tours of their firms. Thirty high schools participated, each visiting a different local manufacturing company.

“The active participation of our twenty manufacturing companies demonstrate that in order for the Chicago Southland to have existing and new companies invest, they must know there is a regional education and workforce program that will create the essential skilled workforce they need,” Reggie said.

Also, CSEDC is launching the 2017-2018 fundraising campaign on November 1st. Each and every investor contribution significantly adds to a major funding source to sustain the corporation (see current investors here). The goal is to invite a minimum of 20 new investors this year and to increase memberships. For more information on investing in the Southland, please contact Holly Campbell at 708-922-4604 or

We gratefully acknowledge Mayor Ryan and the Village of Alsip for hosting this event, as well as CSEDC Board Chairman Michael Scholefield for emceeing it. More photos are here.

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