On the Issues

Neighborhood Economic Development

Chicago’s many neighborhoods are what make our city great, but years of underinvestment have created racial and economic disparities that threaten the long-term health of our city.

We must reintegrate the social fabric of our city by investing in our social infrastructure. Supermarkets, coffee shops, community centers, gardens, parks, and libraries offer opportunities for communities to form. These spaces open the doors to the future. They allow people to be together, work together, and dream of their collective futures.

Right now, there are communities in Chicago that are profoundly isolated from more prosperous parts of the city. Their access to basic necessities like food, housing, mental health care, and good schools has been cut off. Social infrastructure supports have faded away, and crime, addiction, and poverty have taken root.

We must invest in people by leveraging the success of programs like READI Chicago through Heartland Alliance and A Safe Haven Foundation’s landscape program, both of which have had success serving at-risk populations through targeted, individualized job support programs.

Gery knows that targeted investment in neighborhood social infrastructure will transform the city. Through his work at agencies throughout the city and state—and as a lawyer who’s worked extensively on economic development projects—Gery knows the moving parts that must be aligned to get the dollars Chicago needs to invest in our neighborhoods and our future.

These investments have ripple effects within and beyond the neighborhoods that receive them. This is because social infrastructure provides security through job creation, reduced violence, and increased interest from outside investors. Renewed security gives rise to hope; and hope that the future will be bright gives rise to the change Chicagoans deserve to see, block by block and neighborhood by neighborhood.