Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Chicago examples that small/craft industry is still relevant to urban policy and employment

Two articles in the Chicago Sun-Times, "Alternative energy companies grow jobs, presence in Chicago area," and "Technology replaces brawn in Ravenswood corridor," discuss the presence of small industry in Chicago.

The first article is about small scale alternative energy industry in Illinois, not battery production for large scale car manufacturing but various energy saving technologies, such as geothermal power, and is drawn from this report, Clean Energy Supply Chain Reports: Wind, Solar & Geothermal (Illinois), released by the Environmental Law and Policy Center.

Chicago proper has about 5/12 of the region's wind, solar and geothermal technology companies, 86 companies, employing about 2,500 people.

The second article discusses how Chicago's Ravenswood industrial corridor is repositioning to support smaller, what we might call "craft" industrial operations, comparable to what I described is happening in the Central Eastside Industrial District in Portland. From the article:

The Ravenswood corridor has evolved into an informal technology incubator, as web-development startups sit side-by-side with fast-growing, established companies such as Guaranteed Rate, dubbed the Google of the mortgage industry, and NogginLabs, a custom-learning software developer.
The former industrial corridor, running along North Ravenswood, from Wellington to Peterson, sports redeveloped commercial space designed for entrepreneurs and companies whose work cultures require large, open loft spaces.

Joe Hayes, whose Hayes Properties is headquartered in the former Manz printing company building at 4043 N. Ravenswood, owns 750,000 square feet of commercial space in the corridor.

“No one had converted these industrial buildings to work for small, modern companies,” said Hayes, whose firm has reroofed, sandblasted and reconfigured the clock-towered warehouse-like plants into high-ceilinged, sunlit-filled, exposed-brick-walled and hardwood-floored lofts.

Technology-based companies occupy about one-third of Hayes’ holdings and employ about 450 people, based on average employees per square foot.

What would be useful is to have comparable data to that of Portland on the number of businesses and jobs in the corridor.

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