CHICAGO — General contractor Sargent Blinderman has broken ground on the ASPIRE Center for Workforce Innovation in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood. The project is located on the former site of Emmett Elementary School at 5500 W. Madison St. The school closed in 2014. The ASPIRE Center is designed to be a one-stop shop for support services and career training and will house the Jane Addams Resource Corp (JARC) and BMO. JARC will provide free training in manufacturing, welding and mechanical assembly, while BMO will provide retail banking services.
The center will also feature a café, community plaza, rooftop terrace event space and a recently opened park. Both Westside Health Authority (WHA) and Austin Coming Together (ACT) plan to expand their core services at the center. The ASPIRE Center is part of the ASPIRE Initiative, which is focused on investing and developing infrastructure to support businesses and schools, revitalize housing and boost workforce development in the Austin neighborhood. WHA and ACT lead the initiative, while leveraging support from several other partners.
The project team includes architect Lamar Johnson Collaborative and project manager Project Management Advisors. The budget is roughly $40 million with over half of the costs being funded through city and state funds. The ASPIRE Center received more than $20,000 in contributions from community residents and grant funds from various organizations.