PULLMAN — Construction on an environmentally-friendly manufacturing plant is officially underway on the city's South Side.
Method, a company which boasts natural, nontoxic cleaning products, held an official groundbreaking ceremony for a $33 million plant being built in the Pullman neighborhood.
The plant, which was announced in July, is scheduled to open early next year and will be the company's first manufacturing facility in the United States.
The company was lured to the South Side neighborhood in part by $9 million in city Tax Increment Financing funds as well as $1.1 million in state tax credits over 10 years.
The project will evenutally create nearly 100 jobs in the area once the factory is complete. Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) said the plant will provide a big economic boost to a neighborhood originally developed as a factory town.
"There hasn't been a manufacturing company on the South Side in the city of Chicago for almost 30 years," Beale said, prompting applause.
The plant's plans call for a 230-foot wind turbine and solar panels that the company said will meet half the plant's energy needs. Plans also call for greenhouses to cover the building's roof, which company officials said will be rented out to vendors to grow fresh fruit and vegetables.
Drew Fraser, CEO for Method, said the plant will aim to be the first LEED platinum-certified factory in the consumer packaged goods industry.
"We're doing this with the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois by our sides, and without them, choosing Pullman as our new home would not have been possible," Fraser said Tuesday.
The company, founded in 2000 in San Francisco, was considering 150 locations for the factory before choosing the Pullman site.
The factory's walls have already been built, which Fraser called a "true act and feat" given Chicago's brutal winter so far.
"We're building in one of the worst winters in Chicago," Fraser said at the press conference.
To which Mayor Rahm Emanuel quickly quipped: "We know."
Emanuel thanked Method for choosing Chicago and said the project is another step in developing the Pullman neighborhood, which he tagged as one of several "opportunity areas" targeted in his "Neighborhoods Now" initiative.
"This neighborhood has been a rich part of our history, but actually because of this building it's going to be a rich part of our future," Emanuel said.