Chicagoland’s Industrial Growth Zones Program

By Todd McCollister

Chicago’s Growth Zones Program was created to make industrial development faster, simpler and easier – can your redevelopment project qualify?

The City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development, in collaboration with the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development, launched the Industrial Growth Zones Program in July of 2016. The pilot program, planned to end in July of 2019, is designed to attract industrial business, accelerate job growth, and drive neighborhood investment within underutilized, industrial areas of Cook County. The program is designed to 1) lessen the burden of addressing environmental issues typically associated with unused or abandoned industrial properties, 2) ease delays often incurred from governmental involvement, and 3) promote job creation and local hiring.

The program offers property owners, industrial businesses, and/or developers with eligible properties up to $130,000 in financial assistance to complete environmental assessments and corrective actions (if necessary) prior to, or in conjunction with redevelopment. Available financial assistance is summarized below:

  • Up to $5,000 for a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Update meeting the ASTM E1527-13 standard;
  • Up to $25,000 to perform a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment meeting the ASTM E1903‑11 standard; and
  • If necessary, up to $100,000 to perform remediation or corrective actions in accordance with a work plan approved by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s voluntary Site Remediation Program.

In addition to the financial assistance summarized above, the Program will assign a “Concierge” to the project, whose duties are to assist the developer by expediting local government processes, such as permit review, licensing, inspections, etc. The Concierge also assists with future workforce placement (discussed further below).

Eligibility requirements to participate within the program are relatively straight-forward, and include the following:

  1. The subject property must be located within one of seven Growth Zones established by the Program (the zones, known as the Northwest Growth Zone; the Roosevelt-Cicero Industrial Corridor Growth Zone; the Greater Southwest Growth Zone; the Burnside Growth Zone; the Calumet Growth Zone; the Calumet /Cal Sag Growth Zone; and the I-57 / I-294 Growth Zone are comprised of historically industrial areas, primarily situated within the western and southern portions of Cook County).
  2. The subject property must be revitalized for future industrial use and promote job creation; and
  3. Businesses that receive remediation reimbursement or businesses located on properties that received remediation reimbursement must agree to initially utilize the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership for filling vacant positions (the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership will establish a pool of qualified candidates with emphasis on those who live near the subject property).

The Industrial Growth Zones Program was created to make industrial development faster, simpler and easier, thereby accelerating business potential in Chicagoland neighborhoods, so if you have a prospective project that may benefit from this program, please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions. Successful redevelopments are an AKT Peerless specialty, and our Chicago team stands ready to streamline and assist landowners, businesses and/or developers through this unprecedented program.

To view an interactive map depicting the seven defined Growth Zones, and for more information about the Industrial Growth Zones Program, please visit www.growthzones.com.

About the Author

Todd McCollister PortraitTodd McCollister, Senior Project Manager at AKT Peerless, is a licensed professional engineer with nearly 20 years of professional environmental consulting experience specializing in environmental due diligence, risk management, environmental site characterization, and remediation. He can be reached directly at 630-313-6266 or at mccollistert@aktpeerless.com.

About AKT Peerless

We are environmental consultants, building scientists and redevelopment experts who are proud to help build sustainable communities. Our services – environmental, energy, sustainability, economic development incentives, and construction loan consulting – are tailored to the needs of each of our clients. We solve problems and deliver value on projects of any size, anywhere, and we empower our people to engage, at work and in our communities, to make a difference. We succeed because our clients and communities succeed. Call us at 800-985-7633 for help with practical solutions.

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