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Roseland, Pullman

Pullman Investment, Including 1,500 New Jobs In 10 Years, Could Serve As Model, Study Says

Next week's ribbon-cutting of a new Amazon distribution center is the latest investment in the Far South Side community.

File Photo: The Pullman Community Center in the South Deering neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois seen on April 9, 2020. | Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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PULLMAN — Amazon plans to the cut the ribbon next week on a massive distribution center in Pullman, the latest investment in the Far South Side neighborhood.

The $60 million center was built where Ryerson Steel once stood near 104th Street and Woodlawn Avenue, just north of Amazon’s Whole Foods Midwest Distribution Center, which opened in 2018. The center is expected to create hundreds of permanent jobs.

Though long-neglected, Pullman has seen a wave of investment in recent years, including the ongoing renovation of the neighborhood’s historic clock tower, which is part of a national monument.

Credit: OSCAR SÁNCHEZ
The Pullman Clock Tower is undergoing a restoration.

The work happening in Pullman was the subject of a new study by the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, which looked at “place-based investments” in the neighborhood.

The case study, led by Chicago Booth’s Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation along with the nonprofit Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, looked at the boom in development in the community and analyzed how investment by U.S. Bank could be replicated in other cities or communities.

It began in 2009 when U.S. Bank bought what used to be First Bank of Oak Park and its subsidiary Park National Bank in Pullman. First Bank had operated a nonprofit called Park Bank Initiatives to guide education and housing philanthropy. The nonprofit evolved into Chicago Neighborhoods Initiatives, which works to coordinate resources and bring development projects to under-resourced neighborhoods.

Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, helmed by former Park District Supt. David Doig, has since helped bring in the Whole Foods and Amazon distribution centers, as well as a Walmart, a food hall for local restaurants, a Method Soap factory, the Gotham Greens urban agriculture company, the Pullman Community Center and more.

Chicago’s Booth’s study said the investment created nearly 1,500 neighborhood jobs in the past 10 years, helping to lower the neighborhood unemployment rate by 8 percent.

“As someone who grew up and lived in Pullman during tough times as well as the good, I am tremendously proud of how we’ve pulled together to restore vitality to a neighborhood that was long neglected,” said Ald. Anthony Beale (9th).

Zack Boyers, president and CEO of USBancorp Community Development Corp, said the bank has invested more than $120 million in the 180-acre Ryerson property over the past decade, capital that “has been a catalyst to attract another billion dollars bringing the total investment to over $350 million.”

“We have worked together with CNI to really transform that 180-acre Ryerson property into what Pullman Park is today,” he said.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The Whole Foods Distribution Center in the Pullman.

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