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Green Collar Jobs for Logan Square

Curtis Black of Community Media Workshop
July 28, 2008 – A proposed workforce initiative bringing green-collar jobs to laid-off workers and community residents caps several years of community efforts to save a Logan Square manufacturing plant as a job-providing site.

On Wednesday, the City Council is expected to act on a TIF proposal that could fund a Green Exchange Workforce Initiative for a green business development in the building that once housed the Frederick Cooper Lamp Company at 2545 W. Diversy until it closed in 2005.

In advance of potential TIF funding, LISC Chicago is sponsoring a $250,000 grant proposal providing startup funds for the jobs program, which grew out of efforts by the LEED Council and Logan Square Neighborhood Association to save jobs at the site.

The LEED Council will work with businesses in the building — a “Green Merchandise Mart” with showrooms for environmentally-friendly businesses — and LSNA will help identify former workers at Cooper Lamp and low-income community residents for jobs there.

“We see it as a wonderful initiative for the community — and for other communities to use as a template,” said Rev. Sandra Castillo of Episcopal Church of the Advent, an LSNA leader.

By marrying green industries with community development, Green Exchange offers a unique opportunity to improve the environment, grow businesses and create jobs for Logan Square residents,” said Marva Williams of LISC.

Ted Wysocki of the LEED Council said the groups are hopeful about the possibility of siting manufacturing and warehousing operations for businesses with showrooms in the Green Exchange in the Elston-Rockwell Industrial Corridor just north of the building. That would add to the environmental benefits of the project by reducing pollution and fuel use for transportation, he said.

When Cooper Lamps closed, a community task force supported by LSNA formed to win severance pay for the workers and to fight off proposals to turn the four-story manufacturing plant into condos, Castillo said.

She said Baum Development, developers of the Green Exchange, is establishing a college scholarship fund for local students interested in pursuing green careers. For more details, you cancheck out the Green Exchange site’s story.

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