Emerald South Economic Development Collaborative


Woodlawn. Washington Park. South Shore.

Emerald South works to ensure that access and opportunities are shared and benefit the residents and business owners who call the South Side home today. We aim to foster the growth of existing local businesses and leaders, attract new investment, develop our local workforce, and support inclusive housing by capitalizing on the major new projects, like the Obama Presidential Center, now growing in our neighborhoods.

151006_EYE_TheasterGatesStonyIslandArtsBank07.jpg.CROP.original-original copy 2.jpg

Our Mission

We strive to connect, engage, and support catalytic people, projects, and programs in Woodlawn, Washington Park, and South Shore on the South Side of Chicago. New development projects, in particular the creation of the Obama Presidential Center, present an unprecedented opportunity to spur new and impactful investments.

Emerald South is guided by the principles of inclusive and equitable economic growth, collaboration and transparency with local residents and organizations, and a commitment to best practices driven by data with a 10-15 year planning perspective. Emerald South will help to create sustainable and resilient communities by focusing on the priorities of:

1. Commercial corridor expansion

2. Sustainable housing

3. Workforce development

Unique, as well as aligned, strategies across the three communities are imperative to ensure that residents and their livelihoods are uplifted alongside the commercial, housing, and workforce assets on the South Side.These impact areas were identified through a series of focus groups and large town halls with hundreds of community members.

8.21_south_shore_summer_fest-teaser (1).jpg

How We Envision Impact

Impact happens when community voices, scaled resources, good data, and long-term commitment and vision align for the betterment of our communities. At Emerald South, we believe that impact begins with thoughtful and purposeful communication with our neighbors — embracing and celebrating the richness and dynamism of the communities that make up the Woodlawn, Washington Park, and South Shore neighborhoods. Emerald South fosters impact on the South Side that starts and ends with the community.


How We Partner


Real Support

Our commitment to our South Side neighborhoods is not only reflected by our investment of time but also in the intentional use of our networks, financial investments, and convening power.


We will work alongside the vibrant and diverse network of businesses and nonprofit organizations on the South Side to align our visions and take action together.

Human Capital

Emerald South is a network of dozens of companies and organizations, as well as committed residents and supporters of all races, income levels, experiences, and hopes that are committed to a vibrant Woodlawn, Washington Park, and South Shore.


Our Leadership

The Board of Directors is composed of strong representation from the three communities of Woodlawn, Washington Park and South Shore, as well as from the South Side and city more broadly. The full founding Board includes:


Rev. Torrey Barrett

Rev. Dr. Byron Brazier

Naomi Davis

Susan Sher

Michael Strautmanis

Hubert Thompson

Father Richard Tolliver

Charise Williams

Charles Young

Andrea Zopp

Aarti Kotak (ex-officio)

David Reifman (ex-officio)

Arne Duncan, co-chair

Sherman Wright, co-chair

Brant Ahrens

Liz Gardner

Stephanie Green

Jacky Grimshaw

Joel Hamernick

Calvin Holmes

Rev. Jesse Knox III

Phaedra M. Leslie

Donald McGruder

Raul Raymundo

Tim Schwertfeger


Contact Us

Name *