University, City create Memorandum of Understanding to promote economic development on South Side of Chicago

Officials from the University and the City of Chicago have agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding on economic development, creating a framework for cooperative planning and execution of projects that will foster growth and jobs on the South Side.

The memorandum lays out a path for pursuing initiatives that will foster growth. Each party lays out specific steps it will take to promote economic opportunity. Together, the University and City commit to collaborating with one another and with local officials and communities on these shared goals.

“This agreement helps ensure that our investments and the City’s investments work together to help create a vibrant South Side community,” said University President Robert J. Zimmer. “It expresses our commitment to working with the City, our neighbors and our local officials, and it supports that ongoing engagement with specific steps each of us will take.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the agreement historic.

“This will allow the University and the City to work together to create jobs for residents, work together on construction projects, and make a profound positive impact on the communities on the South Side of Chicago that neither party would be able to do on its own,” Emanuel said in an announcement Friday.

In the document, the University commits to collaborating with the City and local aldermen as it moves forward on an estimated $1.7 billion in capital construction projects over the next five years. In addition, it commits to spending $2.5 million to work with Metra on improving the 59th Street Metra Station and opening a 60th Street Station; $750,000 over three years in support of neighborhood improvement grants; $500,000 over five years on new programs to help local residents find work at the University and through its business partners; and $750,000 over five years on employer-assisted housing in surrounding neighborhoods.

The University also articulates its continued commitment to helping create opportunities for woman- and minority-owned businesses in its projects, and to helping local residents get access to employment opportunities with the University.

The City commits to developing a plan for development for the public infrastructure surrounding the University of Chicago, and to integrating that plan with a similar plan from the University. Further, the Mayor’s Office will create an inter-agency task force that will include representatives from several City departments and sister agencies, as well as the Mayor’s office. This task force will coordinate with the University to ensure a high level of collaboration between the University and the City.

As part of the multi-year plan, the City of Chicago has outlined nearly 50 construction projects that it will undertake in the area.

This agreement came together with the leadership and cooperation of Ald. Leslie Hairston, Ald. Will Burns, Ald. Willie Cochran, and Ald. Pat Dowell, who worked alongside University of Chicago officials and representatives from the Mayor’s office to craft an arrangement that benefits the residents of the surrounding communities. The agreement takes effect immediately.

University officials said that economic development represents part of a much larger effort to work with the city and nearby communities. Other key areas of engagement are K-12 education, including the University’s operation of four charter school campuses, supported by research, teacher training and programs inside and outside the classroom; public safety, including the University’s police patrol work and transportation initiatives; health care; and a wide array of pro-bono and volunteer activities that help bring community members to the University and University affiliates out into the community.