LEED Council
Good Bye Tumblr. Hello New North Branch Works Website and Blog

The new North Branch Works website launched today…..Take a look around and check out some of its new features such as an interactive map of available properties, calendar, up-to-date information on training courses and more.

The new site also has an integrated blog which means we will be leaving Tumblr and writing posts directly on NorthBranchWorks.Org…If you follow us keep an eye on our website, facebook, and twitter account. More great blogs are yet to come. Thanks for reading!

North Branch Works: Business Services

What do Recruiting, Hiring Tax Credits, Training Grants, and Fee-for-Service Customized Trainings have in common? They are all services that North Branch Works offers its business partners.


You define the hiring requirements.  We sift through hundreds’ of resumes and our own applicant database to find the perfect candidate. Wouldn’t it be nice to free up all those hours spent looking through resumes to a more productive endeavor? This service is provided at no charge.

Hiring Tax Credits

New hires may be eligible for Federal and State tax credits. But you will never know unless you ask. Ask us. We can tell you and make the filing for the credits simple because we do most of the work for you.

Training Grants

Do you need to train your employees? Ask us about training grants that can reduce your training costs.

Fee-For-Service Customized Trainings

Are you planning to introduce a new piece of machinery onto your plant floor? Do your just promoted supervisors need supervisory training?  How about computer skills training or green carpentry or energy auditing training? All can be provided by North Branch Works. Some at a fee and others at no charge.  Let us be your training partner.

All of these are available to our business partners for the asking. If you have any questions about these services, please contact Liliana Kaminski Bradford, Assistant Director-Employer Relations, at lily@leedcouncil.org

Working the North Branch

For the last year and a half, the Local Economic and Employment Development Council and now with our new name as North Branch Works has been expanding our service area north and west along theChicago River into the “Addison Industrial Corridor”, shown below.  This area, which is almost contiguous to the rest of our service area, has been the focus of City and local planning efforts for a few years. 

A plan for the area (A Strategic Plan for the Addison Industrial Corridor), commissioned by the Department of Housing and Economic Development (then the Department of Community Development) identified three sub-areas of the Corridor. 


The southern-most sub-area, dubbed the “Rockwell Corridor”, has been a particular focus of ours and builds on redevelopment efforts at the Green Exchange and Lathrop Homes.  This area basically follows the Chicago River from George on the south toBelmonton the north and is home to a few large employers, including Cenveo Envelope Company and Tampico Beverages.  The goal of the Rockwell Corridor redevelopment is to modernize an old corridor with inadequate space, land use uncertainty and speculation into a sustainable industrial park with well-functioning space for green and traditional businesses.

Partially due to our success in reaching out to business and property owners in the Rockwell Corridor, the City’s Department of Housing and Economic Development expanded our LIRI (Local Industrial Retention Initiative) contract to include the entire Addison Industrial Corridor. We are excited about being able to help businesses stay, expand, and locate to this area.  We have begun to outreach to major stakeholders in the area, including the 47th Ward Alderman Amaya Pawar, owners of Bradley Place  (the former Bodine Electric campus near WGN studios)  now under new ownership and partially up for lease) DeVry University, and others.  We are planning to have a business forum later this summer at DeVry University that will provide information on lowering your business’s bottom line and will be a great opportunity to meet with more stakeholders in the area.  Please be on the lookout for more information as we firm up details. 

For more information, please contact:

Krista Kahle Elam


773.929.5552 x 226

Available for Hire: Green LEEDers– An Energy-Wise Enterprise of the LEED Council

“Weatherizing Lincoln Park” was the headline for a workshop, conducted on June 26th by the LEED Council’s Green LEEDers. The workshop was part of Green Week, a community project organized by the office of Michelle Smith, Alderman for the 43rd Ward. The team put forward the basics of what every homeowner or small building owner should know about weatherization - how it leads to energy and utility cost savings, as well as a healthier and more comfortable home or building. Some of the specific topics included “whole house” weatherization theory, explanations of blower door testing and some industry-wise thoughts on the cost effectiveness of specific weatherization measures in addition or comparison to other approaches to energy conservation. Overall, the thrust of LEED Council’s aims was to make weatherization exciting and sensible enough, to inspire attendees to take “next steps” toward weatherizing their buildings.  


In addition to being trained in weatherization, Green LEEDers are skilled in a variety of home improvement and repair trades including carpentry, painting and kitchen remodeling. Green LEEDers can deliver professional work at affordable prices to single family homeowners, landlords of 1-3 unit buildings, and small business establishments. If you’re interested in an estimate appointment, give us a call at 773 929 5552 ext. 235.

Rebranding for Future Connecting…

For over 30 years, the Local Economic & Employment Development Council has been connecting industry and community.  We partner with local businesses in the North River and now the Addison Industrial Corridors to promote environmentally sustainable economic development, intrinsically linked to job creation and workforce development.

We encourage business-appropriate land use and area revitalization. We advocate for public investments, such as new bridges, to spur new business growth.

We train disadvantaged unemployed and underemployed workers, enabling them to acquire marketable job skills.  Now through our Worklocal.org initiative we are expanding the opportunities for community residents to get local jobs with good wages.

For our 30th Anniversary, we initiated a key messaging and brand strategy project with the Taproot Foundation to develop a new visual identity. In the course of working with our service grant team over the last eight months, we engaged our board of directors in deciding to create a new “doing business as” identity.

We remain committed to the “heart & soul” of our organization, to the duality of our mission… advancing economic and employment opportunities for Chicagoans. Now going forward, we will do so as NORTH BRANCH WORKS

As such, we will continue to do three things: 

  • Help businesses grow; 
  • Connect people to and train them for jobs; and
  • Link businesses, community and government to improve our local economy.

Just as our past accomplishments, our future success will be tied not just to your support but also to your engagement. Work with us to persevere in connecting industry and community.


Ted Wysocki

President & CEO


                       Take a look at our 30th Anniversary video below…


Illinois Enterprise Zones Get a Lifeline

Chicago has six Enterprise Zones. They all share the same goal of stimulating economic activity in blighted areas by offering tax incentives and other benefits. Next year the first batch of Enterprise Zone incentives are set to expire- spurring a political debate on the future of the program. Enterprise Zone 4, which covers a large portion of LEED Council’s service area, is set to expire in 2014.

After nearly three years of discussion and negotiation, the Illinois General Assembly recently passed Enterprise Zone extension legislation. The bill is now awaiting the Governor’s signature. The LEED Council strongly supports this legislation for many reasons.

First, our organization regularly observes how the availability of economic incentives such as Enterprise Zones do factor into a business’s decision on where to locate. Without the incentives those districts lose a bargaining chip that might make the difference to a business looking for a new site and may result in those jobs being brought to a different district, a different city, or even a different state. 

Second, we support the extension of Enterprise Zones simply because we have seen them work.Take Goose Island for example- 30 years ago it was largely vacant and underutilized. At that time there were roughly 25 firms that employed about 1,000 workers. With the help of Enterprise Zone incentives, Planned Manufacturing Districts (PMD), and the Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF),GooseIslandnow supports over 85 firms and nearly 5,000 employees.

Finally, it is important to note that the challenges faced by economic development efforts are greatly exacerbated by the banking crisis and recession. This fact, combined with the pressing need for job and business growth in our communities makes Enterprise Zone incentives necessary more than ever. Now would have been a terrible time to take away such a useful tool. 

-Adam Panza, Assistant Coordinator of Economic Development 


Last month, I attended the annual conference of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) in DC.  The theme this year was: “Not Just an Economy, a Just Economy.”  I have been a NCRC board director now for almost 20 years and have had the opportunity to discuss our local economy with numerous federal officials.  I will leave for another time to comment on the flaws and neglect that resulted in our national crisis in order to blog today on how we can and should rebuild our local and national economy.

Both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives have bills pending to enact the “Project Rebuild Act.”  Senator Durbin and Representatives Gutierrez and Rush are among the Congressional leaders who support this initiative proposed by President Obama as part of the American Jobs Act to put people back to work by rehabilitating homes. Project Rebuild could create 200,000 jobs, redevelop at least 150,000 vacant properties, and stabilize home prices in communities throughout the country hit hardest by foreclosures and unemployment.

The Local Economic and Employment Development [LEED] Council here in Chicago has been refining our job training curriculum to teach the skills necessary to rebuild in the most energy efficient way.  We are exploring partnerships with both for-profit and non-profit developers to grow our transitional jobs program, Green LEEDers, into an on-going social enterprise. 


                  LEED Council’s Green LEEDers ready to rebuild green

The key to rebuilding communities is linking local residents to the employment created in restoring vacant properties for affordable housing. With jobs, people hardest hit will again be able to afford homes and only then will our local and national economy recover.

Project Rebuild should not be a partisan pawn held hostage in Congress. Communities continue to depreciate while the economic health of families deteriorates. That’s NOT a Just Economy.

Ted Wysocki, President & CEO

Local Economic & Employment Development Council

Chicago, IL


Green LEEDers Update: An Evolving Technicolored Vision

LEED Council’s Green LEEDers presented at the 5th annual Chicagoland Green Collar Jobs Summit on April 12. The event provided substantial and informative background on opportunities in the green sector of Chicago’s economy and offered a chance to promote the work we have been doing since the inception of our Green Skills training in 2008.

Dean Tripp (left), Associate Director of Green Skills, speaks at one of his regular meetings with the Green LEEDers.

During the summit, we provided historical background about the program. Green LEEDers began in fall 2009 after LEED Council was awarded a contract from the City’s former Department of Environment. Our aim was to develop a green-oriented, transitional jobs program with the goal of doing green construction work and an eye to transitioning the program itself into a social enterprise. The concept included training and work in how to weatherize and retrofit residential buildings up to three stories, as well as work in renewable energy.

Subsequently, a Green LEEDers crew was recruited from our green skills classes, funded by the IL Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Training included Home Performance: Green Carpentry and Weatherization; Fundamentals of Solar Installation; and Home Energy Auditor Training (HEAT).

Some of the projects the Green LEEDers have since completed include:

  • Major home repairs and kitchen remodeling for disabled clients of the Chicago Commons Association;
  • Improvements to low income seniors’ homes through the City’s Small Accessible Repairs for Seniors (SARFS) program; and
  • Home energy assessments and estimation of home performance improvements, as a result of leads generated through door-to-door marketing by Green LEEDers and other LEED Council training alumni as part of a community energy education campaign in Logan Square. 

Similar to other construction operations across the country, the Green LEEDers have been challenged to keep busy on a steady basis. But when they are not working in the field, they have remained occupied with intermittent training and facilities improvement projects – which have included building computer skills testing booths, as well as needed maintenance work to the LEED Council offices and training shop. Certain LEEDers, one of whom told his story at the Green Jobs Summit, have also done outreach work as presenters at various green and community events.

Our Green LEEDers program is now into its third year, which started with an award of our second SARFS contract from the City’s Department of Housing & Economic Development. That was followed by a small labor contract with a new affordable housing developer. Additionally we’ve begun to negotiate a contract for a defined piece of work, which is part of a Neighborhood Stabilization project that is in the hands of a prominent “LEEDer-friendly” developer.

Simultaneous with these activities and in anticipation of expiration of our original contract from the City’s Department of Environment, the Green LEEDers Program has also begun taking its first steps to becoming a social enterprise, under the guidance of our Board’s new Social Venture Advisors. This transition started with volunteer and staff research of other similar programs and exploration of free resources to help with a founding of a new entity. This has led to developing criteria for just what the Green LEEDers Program should logically become — an evolving vision of an “energy-wise construction enterprise”

For information or to solicit a bid for work, please contact Dean Tripp at (773) 929-5552 x231 or dtripp@leedcouncil.org

Applying SBIF to Your Small Business

Throughout this year I have helped businesses with a variety of different economic incentives. “Each incentive is a unique tool in the economic development toolkit,” my boss, Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED) Council’s Director of Economic Development, Mike Holzer likes to say.

One of my favorite incentives is the City of Chicago’s Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF). The fund is used in certain districts across the city to reimburse small business owners for improvements made to their properties. It’s a win-win situation: neighborhood appearances improve and businesses remain competitive or are able to expand.

Where do these funds come from? There are blighted areas across Chicago deemed Tax Incremented Financing (TIF) districts. In a nutshell, when a TIF district is created the area’s property taxes are frozen for 23 years. Additional property taxes that are gained during that period are set aside into a separate fund that forms the TIF. These funds are used on larger projects (usually exceeding $1.0 million), such as infrastructure, environmental remediation work or improving vacant land and job creation initiatives. SBIF uses a small slice of a TIF district’s funds and focuses solely on property improvements for small businesses.

A few months ago, the City of Chicago allocated $500,000 to a SBIF district in the North Branch Industrial Corridor. LEED Council hosted a public meeting to announce the allocation, and carried out extensive outreach in the area. Within 30 days, applications had been filed by seven local small businesses.

What kind of projects are these seven businesses are planning for the funds? One local company will use the money to introduce green technology into the area by installing charging stations for electric vehicles. Another applicant is a 50-year-old business that requested money to replace its roof. Resource Point of Sales, a company that has recently moved into an industrial building that sat vacant for over 10 years, will be using the funds to help make general improvements to the property.

At the end of the day, SBIF is a useful tool, not only for how impactful it is, but also for how easy it is for business owners. Compared to other incentives, the application process is painless and the project requirements are minimal. It helps small business owners, who contribute to the creation of local jobs; and makes stronger, more attractive business districts. 

- Adam Panza, Assistant Economic Development Coordinator

LEED Council Offers “Home Performance: Green Carpentry and Weatherization”

We are recruiting for a high-powered, comprehensive job-skills training program designed for individuals with a genuine interest in the rapidly developing specialities of green carpentry and weatherization.

This program is primarily targeted at unemployed or underemployed individuals living in the AustinRoseland,East Garfield Park, Englewood, West Englewood, Humboldt ParkLogan SquareNear West SideNorth LawndaleWest Garfield ParkAuburn Gresham, orWest Town Community Areas. Residents of certain other Community Areas are also eligible.

The training starts on Monday, April 30th.

Please note, however, that prospective trainees must go through a 5-step, 10-hour intake process. 

Absolutely no walk-ins will be accepted.

Individuals with interest should contact me
Ebony McLaurin, Client Services Coordinator, at 773-929-5552 ext. 228.