South Side business owners participate in UChicago Local capacity building class at the Chicago Innovation Exchange.

When local residents and businesses thrive, their communities do too. The University of Chicago is committed to helping to strengthen communities surrounding our campus by creating opportunities for residents and business owners. Through the UChicago Local initiative, the University partners with organizations throughout the city of Chicago to connect businesses and job seekers in mid-South Side neighborhoods to opportunities at the University, the University of Chicago Medicine, and their vendor networks.

Learn more about UChicago Local. Video Link:

Local Hiring

The University of Chicago is the largest employer on the South Side of Chicago, with nearly 6,000 staff employees of the University and medical center living within seven zip codes near its campus. In fiscal 2014, those area residents accounted for about one-third of UChicago’s total staff. Read our Employment Impact report.

UChicago Local works to advance local hiring by supporting workforce development agencies in their efforts to match mid-South Side residents with jobs and prepare them for employment. Partnerships include:

741 Collaborative:

Through a referral partnership with 741 Collaborative Partnership, a nonprofit that represents 10 workforce development agencies, UChicago Local helps link local residents working with any of 741’s partner agencies to job opportunities at the University, the Medical Center, and surrounding businesses.

Chicago Jobs Council:

UChicago, through the Chicago Jobs Council, provides coursework for job developers and case managers at community-based organizations that support mid-South Side residents. All coursework will provide credit hours that can be applied to the Chicago Jobs Council’s certificate programs.

Skills for Chicagoland’s Future:

The University and the Medical Center partner with nonprofit Skills for Chicagoland’s Future to match unemployed or underemployed South Side residents to jobs.

UChicago Local Workforce Conference:

On August 22, 2014, the University of Chicago’s Office of Civic Engagement, in collaboration with Chapin Hall and the Chicago Jobs Council, convened more than 200 frontline workforce development practitioners and local and national industry experts for a day-long conference to discuss emerging trends and strategies in workforce development.

Workforce development practitioners from across Chicago participate in a day of professional development at the 2014 UChicago Local Workforce Conference.

Local Business Support

UChicago Local supports mid-South Side businesses through an array of efforts, including:

UChicago Procurement

Through UChicago Local, the University and Medical Center are realigning normal purchasing activity to potentially transfer business to competitive local vendors and, as a result, have a greater impact in local communities. The initiative targets prospective businesses in eight categories:

  • Consulting and professional services
  • Plant and maintenance services
  • Food supplies, dining and social activities
  • Non-shop supplies and equipment
  • Transportation and livery services
  • Shop supplies and equipment
  • Equipment lease and rental
  • Space lease and rental

Capacity Building

In partnership with Chicago Anchors for a Strong Economy, UChicago Local provides training to help local companies grow their businesses by building capacity in core business skills, including:

  • Talent management
  • Finance
  • Strategy
  • Marketing

For information on how to get involved with CASE, visit the CASE website.

Business Forums and Vendor Fairs

Through UChicago Local, the Office of Civic Engagement hosts or sponsors regular forums for mid-South Side businesses to showcase their products and services to UChicago and UChicago Medicine staff, faculty and students. 

Two women enjoy lunch at Pizza Capri at 53rd Street and S. Harper in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood Tuesday, May 14, 2013.

Live Local

UChicago Local also encourages University and UChicago Medicine employees to live in the communities surrounding campus. The Employer-Assisted Housing Program (EAHP) provides downpayment assistance to full-time employees purchasing homes in Douglas, Grand Boulevard, Greater Grand Crossing, Hyde Park, Kenwood, Oakland, South Shore, Washington Park, and Woodlawn. Rental reimbursement is available to new renters in a portion of Woodlawn. 


Local employers, business owners, and University staff can get involved with UChicago Local by sharing opportunities and ideas. Email