Residents of North Lawndale are set to see a new $38.4 million dollar industrial complex that officials say could generate up to 700 jobs.
The city says the complex, along with a pair of community innovation centers, will revitalize 21 acres of city-owned land as part of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Invest South/West initiative. The initiative aims to provide up to $14.4 million in support to businesses recovering from the pandemic. Business owners will be able to utilize funds for building renovations, energy efficient supplies and more.
Annie Smith, an executive officer of Angel of God Resource Center, said she plans to use funds to expand services and jobs in the Morgan Park neighborhood.
“We have a lot of vacant lots in [Halsted]. And it’s great that our neighborhoods are collaborating together to expand services to residents,” said Smith. “We are grateful because we will be able to add one location for our organization. Having two locations is not enough to expand services. So, these funds help us move in the right direction.”
Ald. Anthony Beale (9th Ward) said the program was launched without aldermanic input and questions its success.
“I’ve been trying to understand the Invest South/West since it launched. A lot of the initial meetings were done without working with aldermen,” Beale said. “It was a very strategic move not working with aldermen. The [initiative] has been a disaster.”
Smith agreed with Beale that the city could do more but stressed the importance of businesses receiving grants like those awarded through the Invest South/West program.
“We can do better with networking by making sure [city officials] know the work that we are doing,” Smith said. “But these funds will help us beautify the areas we already have, so we can take our land and build up on it while filling the gaps in our communities.”