Comcast late last year joined the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), several community organizations, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel to launch the “Southwest Corridor Collaborative” (SWCC). A global telecommunications conglomerate, Comcast is the largest broadcasting and cable company in the world by revenue.
The goal of this economic development partnership is to revitalize retail corridors on the South Side of Chicago through investments in real estate, housing, small businesses, transit, and employment opportunities.
The first project of this kind on the south side was the development of the Englewood Square shopping center which houses some national businesses including Whole Foods Market, Starbucks, Chipotle and several other businesses. In line with its commitment to closing the digital divide, Comcast expanded its advanced telecommunications network to Englewood Square.
The goal of the collaborative is to reestablish key sections of the corridor as strong, viable and walkable communities by creating cross-community commercial centers that provide business opportunities, local employment, accessible transit, housing, and goods and services for neighborhood residents.
LISC has pledged $500,000 in seed funding to the SWCC and an additional $50 million investment over the next 10 years.
Comcast was an early supporter of LISC’s vision, committing both financial resources to the initiative and serving on a steering committee to attract more businesses to the project. Other community-based organizations, including Teamwork Englewood, the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation and the Southwest Organizing Project, have joined with Chicago Cares, World Business Chicago and a number of banks and elected officials in support of the initiative.
Business community involvement is critical to advancing the SWCC. “To deliver meaningful and long-term economic impact through the SWCC requires engaging with local residents, community organizations, stakeholders and private capital sources,” said Meghan Harte, LISC Chicago’s Executive Director. “The early support and investment from business partners like Comcast reinforces the need for targeted economic growth and the potential to create cross-community commercial centers.”
Comcast will also work with LISC to guide strategies designed to increase digital access along the revitalized corridor. These efforts will build on the existing collaboration between Comcast and LISC to expand digital literacy to underserved populations, which has included access to low-cost internet service through Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, and digital literacy training.
“The Southwest Corridor Collaborative is bringing together a broad coalition of partners focused on innovative ways to drive growth and create new economic opportunities,” Mayor Rham Emmanuel said. “I look forward to working with these partners as we build world-class city with a world-class future, block by block and neighborhood by neighborhood.”
A committed SWCC partner, Comcast is joined by Ald. Foulkes, 16th Ward, Chicago Cares, Community Investment Corporation (CIC), Cook County Land Bank, The National Equity Fund, The Private Bank, Urban Partnership Bank, US Bank and World Business Chicago.
The SWCC is a coordinated effort primarily along 63rd Street from Cottage Grove to Pulaski, incorporating key nodes along south Halsted and 79th Street. It will produce community-led strategies at targeted intersections along the corridor that will leverage investments in real estate, housing, small businesses, transit and employment opportunities.
“When we invest in the economic backbone of our neighborhoods, we invest in the future of the people who live there,” said Maurice Jones, president and CEO of LISC. “People want to work. They want to spend their hard-earned money in their own neighborhood. They want safe streets for their children and a decent place to live. This initiative addresses all of that at once, while also contributing to a stronger, healthier city.”
LISC’s commitment to the SWCC includes seed funding the effort with $500,000 to cover capacity building and support for the neighborhood partner organizations and an additional $50 million over the next 10 years in lending for investments in real estate and local neighborhood businesses targeted as part of this initiative.
The SWCC is designed to take a new approach to economic development investment by creating a community-led, tightly-coordinated approach to planning and investment that engages community residents, the City of Chicago, and public/private capital sources to develop a model for impacting neighborhood economies.