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City of Chicago, Northwestern Partner on City Improvement Plan

Agreement outlines $455 million in planned economic and educational improvements

  • Chicago students to receive better education opportunities via partnerships with University
  • University’s campus construction projects to provide more Chicago job opportunities
  • Elected officials will work to improve Streeterville campus’ public spaces and transit

CHICAGO --- The city of Chicago and Northwestern University will work together over the next three years to improve the economy and quality of life for Chicago residents and further Northwestern’s educational and research mission, as part of a new Memorandum of Understanding signed Dec. 16.

As part of the agreement signed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Northwestern President Morton Schapiro, the University will:

  • Keep the city abreast of its major capital projects, such as the $455 million in planned improvements to the Streeterville campus including the new Simpson-Querrey Biomedical Research Center and renovations to the Abbott Building, to generate more employment opportunities for Chicagoans.
  • Explore new partnerships with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and City Colleges of Chicago to further educational opportunities for Chicago’s students, including continuing Northwestern’s Good Neighbor, Great University initiative, which provides financial aid to CPS students looking to attend Northwestern.
  • Help provide business opportunities via Northwestern’s partnership with Chicago Anchors for a Strong Economy to all qualified businesses and industries with an emphasis on minority, women-owned and local businesses.
  • Work to improve Streeterville’s neighboring communities by emphasizing environmentally friendly construction projects, encouraging the University’s students, staff and faculty to use alternative modes of transportation, such as Divvy bike sharing and mass transit, enhancing security on and around the campus, and planning improvements for Lake Shore Park.

“Founded by Chicagoans, Northwestern University continues to invest in the intellectual, economic and cultural life of our great city, and to invest in the people of Chicago, educating new generations of leaders at our campuses in Evanston and Chicago and now working with the Chicago Public Schools, through the Northwestern Academy, and other programs, to help CPS students prepare for college and careers,” President Schapiro said. “Our involvement with Chicago is strong, far-reaching and growing.”

In return, the city has agreed to enhance the Streeterville community by improving streetscapes, bike lanes, rapid transit and parks in the area. The city will also provide a liaison to the University to help troubleshoot any issues that arise, help coordinate building permits for the University’s upcoming major capital projects, investigate improvements to wayfinding signage in the areas around the University campus, and improve pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle access to and through campus. The city will coordinate closely with the aldermen who represent the University’s campus area to ensure implementation of these projects.

The proposed economic improvements of this agreement will build on the existing $167 million that University students, staff and faculty who live in Chicago or attend Northwestern’s Streeterville campus spent on goods and services from Chicago vendors in 2015.

During a Dec. 16 ceremony at the Harold Washington Library in Chicago, the city signed memorandums of understanding with seven other local educational institutions (DePaul University, Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola University, Rush University, the School of the Art Institute, University of Illinois at Chicago and University of Chicago) to plan more than $2.5 billion in economic and community investments and create more than 10,000 Chicago construction jobs.

“One of Chicago’s greatest strengths is our world-class universities,” Mayor Emanuel said. “They provide pathways to great careers for their students and with the help of these agreements will become even stronger engines of opportunity for our neighborhoods.” 

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