Greising: At Two-Year Mark, Invest South/West Shows Promise

At the heart of the Invest South/West effort is a notion that the destructive powers of crime, disinvestment and other ills can be tackled with government and private resources.

Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks during a press outside of Wrigley Field on April 16, 2020 in Chicago Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

BGA President David Greising writes every other week for the Chicago Tribune Opinion section.

The first map is made up of an array of dots, one for each homicide or nonfatal shooting in Chicago. It shows the darkest concentrations of dots in neighborhoods on the city’s South and West sides.

A second map shows neighborhoods in Chicago that have suffered from a lack of investment — few home mortgages, little commercial lending, sparse use of government tax incentives.

Lay one over the other and their outlines are remarkably similar. They cover neighborhoods with names familiar to anyone who chronicles the city’s urban troubles: Austin, Englewood, Auburn Gresham, North Lawndale and others.

The mashup of two such maps played a key role in the planning that went into Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Invest South/West initiative, the signature economic development program of Lightfoot’s term in office. Launched in 2019, it aims to commit $750 million in city funds over three years to 10 economically fragile neighborhoods. In addition to the twin scourges of disinvestment and violence, they also endure inequitable education spending, lack of upward mobility, health fragility and even short life expectancy.

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