INVEST South/West officially kicked off in October 2019.
Since that time, the City has led neighborhood engagement through a series of kickoff events and neighborhood roundtable groups on each key corridor. These conversations have helped guide decision-making on concentration and alignment of public investments, as well as efforts to catalyze additional private investment for the 10 target neighborhoods.
These private sector investment opportunities are proactively being explored, including opportunities to create job opportunities, better housing, and more necessary amenities on and near the 12 commercial corridors. INVEST South/West will leverage $250 million in existing business development and infrastructure funding from the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) through programs to support improvement projects that align with local priorities.
These new investments will build on more than $500 million in planned programming and infrastructure improvements that will provide enhancements that bolster the vitality of the corridors and surrounding blocks – enhancements that are aligned with the neighborhoods’ Quality of Life priorities.
In 2019, DPD analyzed hundreds of miles of street frontage zoned for commercial or business uses throughout the South and West sides of the city.
The department looked at data and information from a variety of sources, including business licenses, historic resources, transit service, community plans, demographics and more. Data on capital and programmatic investments came from the Department of Business Affairs, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Fleet and Facility Management, the Chicago Park District, the Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Public Schools and World Business Chicago.
An initial analysis of three dozen possible commercial corridors was narrowed by DPD to 10 community areas by using two chief criteria: the existence of at least one well-developed community plan with a commercial component, and the existence of at least one active commercial area at a specific node or intersection.
Focusing on these 10 neighborhoods allows the City to quickly take action in under-invested neighborhoods using available resources and existing plans. After the City is able to measure the success of the initiative, the INVEST South/West initiative could be further expanded to additional neighborhoods across Chicago.
Other commercial corridors across the city will continue to be assisted by City programs, including Special Service Areas, the Small Business Improvement Fund, TIFWorks and business service organizations.