- Chicago Newstips by Community Media Workshop - http://www.newstips.org -

Green-collar jobs for Logan Square

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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.

LISC Chicago [2] is sponsoring a $250,000 grant proposal for the Green Exchange Community Workforce Initiative to provide community jobs in a green business community planned for the building that housed the the Frederick Cooper Lamp Company (2545 W. Diversy) until it closed in 2005.

The initiative grew out of efforts by the LEED Council [3] and Logan Square Neighborhood Association [4] to save jobs at the former manufacturing site. The LEED Council will work with businesses in the Green Exchange — 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.