Home » Our Impact » Impact Areas » Economic Vitality

Enrich the vibrancy of West Side communities by investing in people and local businesses.

Due to the current and historical effects of racial discrimination such as redlining, predatory lending practices, and restrictive covenants, West Side residents have not had the same access to economic advancement as other Chicago residents. A lack of local jobs and opportunities for economic advancement have inhibited residents from retaining money in their local communities. Despite these challenges, West Side neighborhoods also have a strong and vital small business presence, demonstrating great opportunity for economic vitality in the area. Many locally-founded non-profit and community-based organizations work to fill these economic gaps as well. Because we know that economic stability and positive health outcomes are inextricably linked, many of our initiatives focus on the economic wellbeing of the west side.

WSU promotes economic vitality through strengthening local hiring, purchasing, and investments in West Side workers and businesses.

Please read our White Paper to learn about our Small Business Grant Program and Employee Professional Pathways programs. Our program evaluators at the Sinai Urban Health Institute drafted the papers which highlight the progress of the programs in Year 1 and Year 2 of implementation.

WSU tracks the progress of our initiatives; we also track changes in community-level data to monitor progress towards our overarching goals and inform our actions and projects on the ground. We selected 3 Economic metrics from our comprehensive measurement framework to highlight key areas of focus. For more information about our comprehensive framework, please click here.

anchor institution employees are participating in the Medical Assistant pathways program
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West Side business owners and non-profit staff attended information sessions to learn about applying for WSUs small business and non-profit grants
Sanita Lewis
Director of Anchor Mission (Local Hiring, Small Business Grant, Employee Professional) Pathways
To learn more about supporting economic vitality in our 10 communities, please email WSU at: slewis@westsideunited.org
Mariah Van Ermen
Director of Anchor Mission (Local Procurement, Impact Investment)

To learn more about supporting economic vitality in our 10 communities, please email WSU at: mvanermen@westsideunited.org

In our metrics dashboard, we are tracking:
Household income is strikingly different between West Side communities and the loop. Median household income in the loop ranges from 1.5 to 4.5 times greater than the household income in West Side neighborhoods. This measure shows the median household income in dollars adjusted for inflation.
Unemployment demonstrates the great need for employment opportunities among West Side residents, with unemployment rates nearing 20% in some West Side neighborhoods. This measure shows the percent of residents age 16 and older in the civilian labor force who are unemployed.
The poverty rate illustrates the pervasiveness of the income and wealth gap across West Side neighborhoods. This measure shows the percent of all residents who are living below the federal poverty level.

Small Business Grantees for 2020

  • Amaranto Kitchen
  • Art West
  • Black Diamond Consulting; Chicago Signs and Screen Printing
  • Bloom Floral Designs
  • Boyce Enterprise
  • Chocolat Uzma
  • Ciclo Urbano (at West Town Bikes)
  • Classic Cobbler
  • CleverPixl
  • CTRL Kitchen
  • D’s Air & Heating
  • Dazzle N Style
  • Dee Jeff media
  • Elect Logistics
  • Elevate Services
  • Good Life Media Productions
  • Granja & Sons Printing
  • Juan & Only
  • L. May Creations
  •  La Flor de Jalisco
  • Laine’s Bake Shop
  • Leavitt Laundry
  • Lolita Productions
  • My 15 World
  • Pest Pro’s Unlimited
  • PupStars Pet Care
  • Safe Passage Transit
  • Shoreline Medical Equipment
  • Sneaker Geek
  • Taylor’s Tacos
  • The Goodie Shop
  • The Print Lounge
  • TheJumperStore.com
  • Tidy Up Experts
  • Tommy’s Westside Foodmart
  • Trini’s Tasty Pastries
  • Two Sisters Catering
  • Westside Transformation Corp.
  • Wyn Win Communications