On Chicago’s South Side, one neighborhood is tapping into the spirit of its storied past to charge into the economy of the future

The Pullman neighborhood was once home to the Pullman Car Company, which was the largest employer of African Americans in the nation during the early 20th century and its union was instrumental in the Civil Rights Movement. By the early 21st century, however, the neighborhood was impacted by the globalizing industrial economy as many manufacturing jobs disappeared and unemployment skyrocketed. Yet Pullman has adapted over the past decade, undergoing a revitalization driven by entrepreneurship and collaboration.

We are proud to play a part in the revitalization. Since 2009, we have invested $113 million in Pullman, which has led to 1,300 jobs, 135 affordable housing units, a place to play for 50,000 people and, importantly, has catalyzed $133 million in additional outside investment. Among the ripple effects, the community has seen a 10% increase in college graduation rates (Metropolitan City Council, 2017) and 52% decrease in crime rates (Chicago Tribune, 2015). Thoughtfully using our resources to drive these types of meaningful outcomes is core to Community Possible, our social responsibility platform focused on closing the gaps between people and possibility.

 

Shining a spotlight on the people of Pullman

 

To celebrate the neighborhood and the decade of progress, we recently hosted a community dinner catered by local food entrepreneurs at One Eleven Food Hall.

Our Chief Diversity Officer Greg Cunningham said of the event, “In my work, one the greatest privileges is to witness and experience individuals, families and businesses reaching their dreams and financial goals – in that regard, the Pullman community is truly special.”

 

At the event, we unveiled our latest television spot, which features 16-year-old Pullman resident Jalen Mason and was directed by South Side native Rodney Lucas. Keep an eye out for it to air on national broadcasts in the coming weeks.

Watch the extended cut

 
 
 

Transforming a vacant lot into a thriving community center

Our presence in Pullman is young, relative to the history of the neighborhood itself. We started to become a part of the community when we acquired Park National Bank in 2009. With that acquisition, we also became the owner of a significant amount of land, much of which was vacant. Our leaders asked community partners:

“What could we do with this... and how else can we help?”

One brainstormed answer to that question became a reality last year when the new U.S. Bank Pullman Community Center opened on a lot that was once home to a shuttered steel plant. The 135,000-square-foot facility includes play spaces, state-of-the-art equipment, academic services such as tutoring, and much more. In our 2018 Annual Report, U.S. Bank Chief Social Responsibility Officer Reba Dominski gave a video tour of the community center and the neighborhood. 

Watch

 

“We will apply what we have learned from Pullman to our investments in communities across the country.”

Reba Dominski
Chief Social Responsibility Officer
U.S. Bank

 

What’s next?

Through Community Possible, we invest billions of dollars each year in economic and community development initiatives nationwide. By applying our experience being a part of the revitalization work in Pullman, we will be able to ensure that those investments are targeted in a way that will ensure maximum impact. To further guide those efforts, we recently launched a case study research project in partnership with the University of Chicago and nonprofit Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives.

 

About Community Possible

Community Possible is our corporate giving and engagement platform at U.S. Bank, focused on closing gaps between people and possibility in the areas of work, home and play. Through the platform, we invest in programs that provide stable employment, a safe place to call home and a community connected through culture, arts, recreation and play. 

Learn more