At ITW, we believe our purpose extends beyond our products. Our culture and values empower us to execute our business strategy and set the vision for our commitment to our communities. The company and our businesses around the world are committed to making a positive impact in the communities where our 46,000 colleagues live and work through a combination of corporate investments and initiatives, as well as local community support and volunteerism.
Most companies offer a similar refrain when sharing their commitment to being a good corporate citizen. What differentiates ITW is the company’s longstanding tradition of delivering on our commitments with specific actions. Our community impact efforts prioritize access to a quality education as well as workforce and economic development in under-resourced communities.
I continue to witness and champion those tangible actions as the executive project lead of the company’s partnership with the United Way. ITW ranks among United Way of Metro Chicago’s top 10 corporate partners, but our commitment to do more than pure philanthropy is what inspires me. We seek efforts where we can be an active partner in supporting inclusive economic growth and opportunities in disinvested communities.
As an enterprise leader, an African American executive and a proud Chicago resident, I am extremely proud and excited to lead ITW’s Commit to a Neighborhood initiative. Launched in June 2022, the investment in the Austin and Belmont-Cragin neighborhoods strives to leverage our core competencies, assets and capabilities as a diverse manufacturer to create jobs that offer family-sustaining wages and supportive benefits that stimulate economic development on the west side of Chicago.
The initiative builds upon our existing support of the Belmont-Cragin neighborhood, which includes sponsorship of the ITW David Speer Academy named in memory of our former chairman and CEO who passed away in 2012. ITW employees actively participate in the high school’s STEM programs and engage its more than 1,000 students.
To kickstart the Commit to a Neighborhood project, ITW surveyed community partners and leaders to better understand the challenges facing the Austin and Belmont-Cragin neighborhoods and to identify strategies for a successful partnership. These discussions provided key insights into how the company could best leverage our resources to maximize the project’s impact.
ITW purchased two vacant manufacturing facilities to be retrofitted to house production operations from across the enterprise to support the growth we’ve experienced since 2020 and to enable our future growth plans. We are also pursuing strategic partnerships with diverse suppliers and other local businesses as an integral part of our supplier pipeline.
In total, ITW expects to invest nearly $40 million to establish our operations, which also includes a five-year, $2.5M investment in community-based organizations. We’re proud for this transformative project to serve as a catalyst for further economic development but are most energized by the opportunities to collaborate. Just as our colleagues work together to achieve our business goals, we form key, strategic partnerships to invest in education, workforce development and arts and culture within our communities.
Our Commit to a Neighborhood initiative is a potential model of leveraging private sector investment while also engaging other public, private, and nonprofit partners to work together to make a positive impact. ITW is plugging into United Way of Metro Chicago’s established Neighborhood Network to collaborate with on-the-ground nonprofit partners to provide workforce development for industry-specific jobs to residents.
It’s a privilege to work alongside community development organizations tirelessly committed to driving sustainable improvements and amplifying their efforts. Additionally, our Commit to a Neighborhood initiative presents a unique opportunity for the thousands of ITW colleagues within the region to come together and leverage our functional expertise and skills to promote economic prosperity with the potential to change the economic trajectory of our region for generations to come.