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Method Puts Down Roots in a Chicago Community

By 3p Conferences

Editor’s Note: This post is part of TriplePundit’s ongoing coverage of SXSW Eco 2015. You can read our other coverage here.

By Heidi Travis

It's not just about making cleaning more fun (and all that other environmental stuff); Method is also proving that a company can follow its values. Saskia van Gendt shared Method’s story on community engagement and its new manufacturing facility with attendees at SXSW Eco last week.

Earlier this year, Method opened its new LEED Platinum manufacturing facility on the South Side of Chicago.

Method is built from a belief that business should play a leading role in creating good society," founder Adam Lowry stated on the McDonough + Partners site.

Not only did the company bring 100 good jobs to the community, but the impact will also have a ripple effect on the area, including the revitalization of homes in nearby neighborhoods.

Method comes to the South Side

How significant is the benefit Method is bringing to the people of Chicago?

Important enough to the Pullman and Roseland neighborhoods that CNI, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, along with representatives and the mayor worked hard to win Method’s investment. This was a major accomplishment for the city after being selected from 150 sites.

In order to win the relationship, the city also provided $11 million in tax increment financing and the state contributed $4.6 million for infrastructure. By locating in a low-income area, working with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and creating and retaining 65 jobs, Method will be eligible for $1.1 million in tax credits over 10 years. In addition to partnering with the local community and obtaining grants for training, CNI also helped with job outreach with nearby schools at open houses.

The choice to locate in an urban area like Chicago was multidimensional. The goals included being close to workers who could take public transportation to the site and using railways for shipping in addition to 20 percent biodiesel powered JB Hunt trucks. The spot was ideal with its easy access to water, in contrast to the company's other facility in drought-plagued California.

Engaging employees with a creative environment

Method also designed a better place to work, including ping pong for employee breaks!

Not just a dark, boring factory, Method is filled with daylight, fresh air and colors all over. The interiors reflect the rainbow of product colors. Even the forklifts are different colors. Playful signage also adds to the pleasant feel, such as the messages: “recharging station/SHHHHHH…FORKLIFTS SLEEPING” and “the lab/THOUGHT BUBBLES MADE HERE

It’s easy for employees to see how green energy is provided to the factory via noticeable rotating solar trees and a tall wind turbine, noted by Ms. van Gendt to provide 30 percent of the energy needed to run the plant.

Regionally, Method’s new facility also plans to do less harm by capturing storm water on-site, recycling water used in the facility, and promoting that zero waste from factory will go to landfill goal. It's also partnering with the Nature Conservancy and Michigan State University to replenish an equal amount of improved quality water to the watershed and promote sustainable farming in the area. In order to create an open feeling with the community, Method plans to keep 17 out of the 22 acres open as restored prairie and plant it with native plants. Rather than using a fence, Method installed a sidewalk around the property to promote their neighborly relationship.

Method is embracing plans to continue to invest in the community and region as a good neighbor within its new Chicago home, thus bringing good jobs to an area of Chicago that needed a little cleanup.

Image credit: Heidi Travis

Heidi Travis is a full-time planner, designer, and lover of being active in the beautiful outdoors. Heidi recently made a move to discover everything Austin has to offer after growing up in Atlanta, enjoying life in the mountains of Asheville, and appreciating the convenience of living in a city like Philadelphia. While in Philadelphia, she earned her Masters in Environmental Studies at Penn and enjoyed biking to work, as well as being involved in many campus sustainability projects.

You can follow her on twitter @heidi_travis15

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Read more stories by 3p Conferences