Chicago breaks ground on Aspire Center, a US$ 40.9M business development hub

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A groundbreaking ceremony has been held for Aspire Center, a US$ 40.9M business development hub in Chicago. The ceremony was attended by several members of the Chicago government including Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

The Robert Emmet Elementary School, a 69,100-square-foot structure at 5500 W. Madison Ave. that closed in 2013, will serve as the Aspire Center’s home. Designed by Lamar Johnson Collaborative, the multi-use building will serve as an advanced manufacturing training center, a small company incubator, a community hub, and an event space.

The intended on-site services include financial counseling, employment services, job preparedness, and vocational training. Over the course of the next five years, it is expected that the project will train more than 2,000 individuals and provide 50 permanent employees.

Funding and incentives for the project

US$12.25 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) support was granted by City Council for the project last month. The TIF is being used to support the $40.9 million Invest South/West project.

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Further, through a $500,000 DPD Chicago Recovery Plan funding, the West Side Health Authority’s POPFit! community plaza debuted on a piece of the three-acre land shared with the Aspire Center in December 2022.

Additionally, through the Department of Planning and Development’s (DPD) Community Development Grant program, The Aspire Center was chosen to receive city funding.

Commentary on the Aspire Center in Chicago

“When I first became mayor of Chicago, I promised the city’s citizens that my administration would refocus city resources on areas that had been neglected for years.

This dedication led to the creation of my INVEST South/West initiative. Furthermore, it led to today’s groundbreaking. This is the most recent illustration of how my staff has carried out that strategy.” said Mayor Lightfoot.

“The Aspire Center’s programs and services will open up countless career opportunities for Austin residents. Furthermore, supporting local business owners who want to launch new ventures or grow existing ones in this neighborhood,” he concluded.

The Aspire Center is spearheaded by the Westside Health Authority, Austin Coming Together, and the Jane Addams Resource Corp.