Realizing that communities are strengthened by striving economic and business development, WHA developed a bold vision for the Austin community — the Austin Wellness
The Westside Health Authority economic development strategy focuses on leveraging relationships created with local businesses, banks, and community partners to maximize economic opportunities existing within the community. WHA furthers this strategy by creating economic opportunities from meeting the needs of the community.
In response to the growing need for a larger health center facility in Austin, in early 2000, the Westside Health Authority developed the Austin Wellness Center, a $7.9 million, 28,000 square foot healthcare facility. The development leveraged economic opportunities for local employers who met regularly at WHA to organize. These opportunities resulted in 50 jobs, over 5 million in new contracts for local businesses, and revived commercial business along Chicago Avenue. The Center opened in July 2004, and with the new Chicago Public Library, serves as a catalyst for other economic development along the Chicago Avenue business corridor, including 3 new businesses and new facades on older buildings adjacent to the Center and a new Chicago Public Library.
This model is at the core of WHA's strategy for economic development. Since 2004, WHA has organized over 100 local businesses, developed 12 additional properties, created an additional $4 million in local spending, and placed over 35 employees with local contractors that worked on the improvements, repairs and maintenance to all of the properties. Many of the individuals employed are those who were recently released from prison and used the opportunities to find sustainable employment and permanent
- The Wellness Center is anchored by the Austin Cook County Health Center which provides quality primary care health services; and the Austin Community Kidney Center, an 18-station dialysis treatment center developed by Fresenius Dialysis Services.
- Contractors leveraged their work on the Austin Wellness Center to obtain larger construction contracts on other developments such as the new 15th district Chicago Police Department and a Chicago Public Library.
- WHA's economic revitalization projects include a community development
center at 5814-16 West Division Street. As a result of the work over 100 local business have been organized, 9 million dollars have been awarded, and over 90 people were hired.
- A community benefits agreement with US bank to provide 0% interest construction loans for the rehabilitation of foreclosed properties.
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