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Solar Panels Technicians

Economic Development & Vitality

This 90-second video provides an overview of our community-led vision for Southwest Chicago's sustainable future:

Job Creation & Community-Led Workforce

Cultivate Communities create green jobs and spark economic development.  The construction of the six-acre Cultivate Chicago demonstration site will create approximately 1,000 union jobs and will provide hands-on workforce training in sustainable technologies, including solar and geothermal energy.  Upon completion, the hub is also projected to employ 100 permanent, full-time positions. Our executed Community Benefits Agreement and other Memorandum of Understanding include commitments to the hiring of local and Chicago Housing Authority residents.

With our project’s 10% apprenticeship requirement, we are providing economic mobility and employment pathway opportunities in green career paths through a foot-in-the-door with our project, and a pipeline for continuing employment on an adjacent 34-acre mixed-income housing development. We also are requiring that 50% or more of all hours worked on this project are by residents of the City of Chicago and will ensure that those closest to the project in our 96% minority community have the greatest opportunity for employment.

Foundational to our approach to racial equity, we have executed contracts centered upon WMBE hiring, including a small African American- and Veteran-owned MBE construction company that will serve as a protégé to our general contractor.

Community Wealth Generation & Economic Impact

Cultivate will catalyze neighborhood investment, generate local wealth, and create significant and sustained impact in our community. Directly creating 1,000 union and green construction jobs, and enabling long-term employment pathways through workforce partnerships with the adjacent $450MM development, Cultivate will generate 125 permanent positions with a $58,350 median salary plus full benefits, in addition to providing skills-training and apprenticeships leading to economic mobility. 

Cultivate will educate, develop, and nurture a local workforce talent-pipeline that is prepared to equitably access projected green job growth resulting from the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Under-resourced neighborhood residents often commute the furthest to jobs; providing walkable and local neighborhood opportunities, particularly for CHA’s adjacent 700 housing units and existing neighboring residents, directly drives dollars toward community reinvestment. Southwest side residents will build wealth that will stay in our region and will receive access to housing assistance and financial counseling through GSDC leading to increased home ownership, growing the economic stability of our community. 

Square Roots’ on-site production facility will provide 20-25 full-time jobs to community members along with an ownership stake, full benefits, and advancement pathways. Square Roots prioritizes local hiring and provides training designed to take those with no experience to work in their systems within 6-8 weeks. 

It is imperative for our dollars to be continually reinvested in our community, enabling sustainable outcomes. Our Cultivate Promise ensures the reinvestment of all generated revenue to support and grow community benefits, programming and development. In aggregate, Cultivate hub activities will circulate approximately $10MM annually within the community. 


Green Job Training

We will serve as a center for teaching social entrepreneurship and other 21st century skills, in addition to spurring economic development and generating green jobs for the community.  Cultivate Chicago has developed partnerships with the Greater Southwest Development Corporation, Hire360, the Southwest Collective, and others, to implement local business incubation, green job training, and small business support through the use of our facilities.

Cultivate Chicago will trailblaze a model for Chicago’s Climate Action plan, providing a beacon for environmental and racial justice for our 96% minority community constituents and the returning residents to LeClaire Courts. Cultivate aims to be the first Living Community Campus in the Midwest to meet the most ambitious environmental performance standards in the world, the Living Building Challenge, achieving energy and water net-positivity, climate resiliency, and establishing the nation’s precedent for community wellness and sustainability. 

Cultivate Collective is the anchor community-based and community-led nonprofit that will serve as the host organization for all project activities and is working hand-in-hand with the Hearst Community Organization to promote opportunities for local community members through the following partnerships:

  • HIRE360, Hispanic American Contractors Industry Association (HACIA), Black Contractors Owners and Executives (BCOE), and Elevate Energy: Operating a training hub for workforce development through a permanent structure enabling local, industry-specific support through apprenticeship preparation, building trade-related credentialing, and culinary training with a focus on the Latino/Hispanic and Black workforce and equitable participation in the expanded green construction jobs as a result of the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA)

  • Greater Southwest Development Corporation (GSDC): Utilizing space on-site to incubate new businesses through their Business Academy, providing support to local entrepreneurs and business owners, in addition to home ownership assistance and financial counseling

  • Southwest Collective: Overseeing hyper-localized outreach to local businesses and facilitating local food entrepreneurs’ use of Cultivate’s kitchen and café spaces

  • Square Roots: Operating a for-profit, hydroponic farm production facility on the site’s northern end, providing 20-25 full-time, living-wage job opportunities, ownership stake, and upward mobility for community members

Adjacent Mixed-Income Housing

The Purpose Built Communities model of mixed-income housing offers environments and amenities to help residents thrive by elevating the standard of living for the lowest-income residents, while providing the quality amenities that attract people with choice to the neighborhood.


In phase two, Cabrera Capital Partners, in partnership with The Habitat Company, is planning a $450M investment in mixed-income housing and community amenities that will create 700 new units geared primarily for area residents who will benefit from the programs and services at Cultivate Chicago.  The approximately 30% Chicago Housing Authority public housing units and 40% affordable units and will be fully integrated with and indistinguishable from the 30% market-rate units within the development. Housing will be spread throughout the adjacent 34-acre site in a combination of higher density mixed-use buildings as well as lower density dwellings.  The mixed-use buildings are programmed to incorporate housing as well as ground floor commercial space targeting health and wellness, banking, and other neighborhood-serving uses, including business incubation space for local entrepreneurs.  Overall site planning will be dedicated to additional neighborhood amenities, including parks and a community art center, that will provide programming and job training activities.


Housing Development Team

The housing leadership team is diverse by design, with MWDBE participation at all levels of development, design, and construction, and is led by Cabrera Capital Partners, a Hispanic-owned real estate company, The Habitat Company, a leading multifamily residential owner and operator, and the Chicago Housing Authority.  Generations Housing Initiatives (GHI) is a non-profit with the mission of helping families to thrive in safe, high-quality affordable housing environments. GHI’s services connect families to human capital programs, education and workforce development, youth programming, health and wellness resources, behavioral health, and entrepreneurship.

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