North Lawndale Employment Network

Chicago, IL (2020)


Project Description

A vacant North Lawndale banking facility will be redeveloped as the new campus for the North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEM) through a $2.5 million Neighborhood Opportunity Fund grant approved by City Council. The funding will support the $6.9 million rehabilitation of the two-story building at 1111 S. Homan Ave., creating approximately 48,400-square-feet of space for the organization to centralize its operations. The complex will include dedicated space for offices, training, and an apiary and production area for NLEM’s workforce development entity Sweet Beginnings LLC, a local purveyor of raw urban honey and honey-infused skincare products. The project also includes a café and Wintrust bank branch with drive-thru service. In December 2020, CDF provided $8 million in NMTC allocation to NLEN Support Corporation to fund the rehabilitation of a 20,189 sq. ft. former bank building at 1111 S. Homan Avenue in Chicago, IL. Project components include dedicated spaces for workforce development and financial skills training provided by North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN), training space for NLEN and other community organizations, production space for Sweet Beginnings, LLC’s beelove® honey products, a rooftop apiary for beekeeping, a new café, a retail bank, a space for pop-up shops for local entrepreneurs, a community event space, a peace garden, and a fountain. NLEN focuses on training and job placement for low-income Chicagoans who face barriers to unemployment including a criminal record, limited educational background, and other challenges. At full operation, NLEN will provide more than 2,000 unique individuals with a variety of services focused on workforce and financial skill development. Sweet Beginnings (an NLEN social enterprise and transitional jobs program) will use production space to train employees in the production and sales of honey and honey-based skin care. Wintrust Bank will provide the community with retail banking services and offer supplemental educational events from the project monthly. The social enterprise café will fill a void in the community by selling coffee, tea, and breakfast and lunch items. When it reaches stabilization, the project is expected to employ 68 FTEs (including 15 FTEs as part of the Sweet Beginnings transitional jobs program). Project construction is anticipated to support approximately 14 construction FTEs. The project is anticipated to be completed in spring 2021. NMTC equity was provided by JPMorgan Chase.

College or Vocational Training


Mixed-use and Commercial


Vocational Training