February 26, 2020

Ryan Gage
Director of Marketing and Communication

Multi-year commitment aims to help offset drivers of health disparities such as access to care, education, economic opportunity and the physical environment

CHICAGO– The Illinois Medical District (IMD) today announced its involvement in a West Side United (WSU) collaborative that has pledged $6 million aimed at eliminating health disparities on Chicago’s  West Side. The IMD, as part of the investment collaborative, which includes the American Medical Association (AMA), WSU hospitals  and Northern Trust, will embark on a multi-sector effort to confront the unfortunate reality that for some Chicago residents, a zip code is a determinant of health.

“The IMD is proud to stand with West Side United and its partners in the fight for health equity,” said IMD CEO Dr. Suzet McKinney. “With this collaborative, we hope to inspire those around us to create the best opportunities possible for community members to access resources and live longer, healthier lives.”

The West Side United collaborative will invest $6 million this year with four community development financial institutions (CDFIs). The CDFIs will offer loan capital to small West Side businesses and organizations based on the community’s needs, such as improving access to affordable housing and healthy foods, financing local business projects, or supporting job creation efforts and educational programs.

Investments will be deployed in the following neighborhoods: Austin, East Garfield Park, West Garfield Park, Belmont Cragin, Humboldt Park, Little Village, Near West Side, West Town, North Lawndale and Pilsen. To date, West Side United partners have invested a combined $7.7 million in these neighborhoods.

WSU’s impact investment initiative is closely aligned with the IMD’s strategic goals. Situated in the Near West Side, the IMD is surrounded by some of the most historically underserved neighborhoods in Chicago. A resident of West Garfield Park, for example, has a life expectancy of just 69 years, while just a few miles east, a resident of the South Loop is expected to live 85 years. This staggering 16-year gap is shocking, but all too familiar to anyone who has called the West Side home.

As an economic anchor for its surrounding communities, the IMD’s work has direct impacts on the larger West Side. Dr. McKinney’s strategic vision is to galvanize the public and private sectors to invest in life sciences innovation in the IMD and leverage government-sanctioned tools like federally qualified opportunity zones (QOZ) to truly create opportunities for the those in the community.

“This is our moment to advance the wellbeing of our city, block by block,” continued Dr. McKinney. “For us, it’s more than a mission, more than steel and concrete, or even science. We are talking about saving and building lives.”

By building strategic partnerships and leveraging its 31 acres of vacant land in a designated QOZ, the IMD will help create a vibrant, active community that aligns the missions of its partner organizations with the people they serve.

Formed in 2017, WSU’s mission is to build community health and economic wellness on Chicago’s West Side and build healthy, vibrant neighborhoods. All of the work being done by WSU and its partners is part of a broader effort to reduce the life expectancy gap between Chicago’s Loop and 10 West Side neighborhoods by 50 percent by 2030.


About the Illinois Medical District:  The IMD is a community of health, technology and life science organizations in the heart of Chicago, two miles west of the Loop on 560 acres. Every day, more than 80,000 people visit the IMD, including more than 29,000 employees. With $220 million in annual research funding, the IMD generates $3.4 billion in economic activity each year. The IMD offers partners a unique ecosystem of knowledge, collaboration and resources, plus something more: the opportunity to impact the world’s next great healthcare innovation district. Together, IMD partners accelerate discovery and commercialization that is reshaping the practice of all life sciences, generating prosperity for everyone.

About West Side United: West Side United (WSU) is a collaborative effort of people and organizations who work, live and congregate on Chicago’s West Side to make their neighborhoods stronger, healthier and more vibrant places to live.

West Side United seeks to improve neighborhood health by addressing inequality in healthcare, education, economic vitality and the physical environment using a cross-sector, place-based strategy.