Small business development and improvement of our business districts is one of our core functions. This includes: Operation of the Albany Park and Irving Park Special Service Area (SSA #60), operation of the Albany Park Chamber of Commerce, and acting as a Neighborhood Business Development Center through our delegate agency contract with the City of Chicago.
Over the past 30 years, North River Commission has revitalized 350 businesses on the Lawrence Avenue commercial corridor through storefront improvements, multiple small business loans, property referrals, beautification, marketing and promotions representing $350 million in reinvestment.
In the mid-1970's, NRC tackled Lawrence Avenue, first by re-organizing the Albany Park Chamber of Commerce (which now boasts over 100 member businesses) and then by creating the Lawrence Avenue Development Corporation (LADCOR) in 1975.
LADCOR's challenge was to bring area residents and businesses together toward a common purpose: To address the area's empty storefronts, crime, and lack of anchor retailers. Subsequently, businesses along the Lawrence/Kedzie commercial corridor, the historic center of our economic activity, benefited from façade improvements, small business loans, beautification efforts, and the installation of Chicago’s first ever trees, lights and benches in a commercial corridor.
As an award-winnng model for innovative community development in Chicago, LADCOR has reached over 3,000 area businesses, leveraged over $300 million of investment created and/or retained 3,500 jobs. LADCOR retail developments, including the 12-store Kimball Plaza, enabled the commercial district to achieve a less than 3% vacancy rate and emerge with a variety of ethnic and immigrant owned businesses.
As we lead the charge for Albany Park's continued economic vitality, we connect area businesses to building renovation programs such as the Façade Rebate Program and Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) to broaden our businesses' customer base. With some 25 area business partners, the SBIF and Façade Rebate Programs will leverage an additional $1.8 million investment along Lawrence, Foster, Kedzie and Kimball and preserve hundreds of jobs.
LADCOR is also exploring opportunities for transit oriented development (ETOD) in the Lawrence, Kedzie and Kimball retail district. Along with visible physical improvements and long-range community planning, ETOD is part of our overall strategy of making the Albany Park, North Park and Mayfair a vibrant community.