UChicago Local

UChicago Local is a new University of Chicago initiative designed to support local businesses and job seekers in the neighborhoods around the University’s campus. Announced in March 2014, it will be rolled out in phases and will include a variety of programs and tools to help connect businesses and residents to opportunities at the University and at UChicago Medicine.  The first phase will focus on local businesses.

Local Business

UChicago Local will include programs for locally based businesses that provide goods or services that meet the needs of the University community.  It will also link Mid-South Side businesses to a network of leading institutions across the city through the University and UChicago Medicine’s participation in a new program called Chicago Anchors for a Strong Economy (CASE), led by World Business Chicago. CASE was conceived after the University approached World Business Chicago about some of its early work to develop UChicago Local, which began in mid-2013.


Chicago is home to many major institutions and corporations that require a strong base of suppliers of goods and services.  In addition to supporting the success of these institutions, strong business-to-business services undergird the whole economy, making the region a more attractive place to do business.  Many business goods and services firms are located in neighborhoods.  Focusing on the high volume of business-to-business transactions by major institutions can be used to strengthen local firms, increase community and neighborhood vitality, generate jobs, and help grow the regional economy.

Chicago Anchors for a Strong Economy (CASE) is a network of  “anchor institutions”—universities, hospitals, corporations, cultural institutions, and others—committed to putting their purchasing power to work to achieve these goals.


  1. Why did the University of Chicago create UChicago Local?
    As both a leading urban research university and an anchor institution on our city’s South Side, the University of Chicago is committed to supporting vibrant communities around our campus. In recent years, the University has taken on several efforts to support economic growth on the South Side and serve as a catalyst for job creation and new investments in local communities. UChicago Local and the University’s participation in Chicago Anchors for a Strong Economy (CASE) are extensions of those broader efforts. Like the University’s investments in affordable housing for employees and redevelopment on 53rd Street in Hyde Park, support of local businesses will strengthen local communities and help attract top faculty, scholars and students to the University.
  2. What are the specific programs that will support businesses?
    Programs launched during the first phase of UChicago Local will include:
    • CASE Capacity Building
      • In partnership with Chicago Anchors for a Strong Economy (CASE), UChicago Local will provide training to help local companies grow their business to the next level. Training will focus on building capacity in core business skills, including:
        • Talent management
        • Finance
        • Strategy
        • Marketing
    • Local Business Showcase
      • Business-to-Business (B2B) forums will create opportunities for local businesses to introduce their goods and services to UChicago Purchasing Staff.
      • Business-to-Consumer (B2C) forums will create opportunities for local businesses to showcase their products and services to faculty, staff and students.
    • Buy Local Campus Connection
      • New Hire Introduction: Local businesses will have the opportunity to include their marketing materials in packets distributed to new University employees.
      • Buy Local Directory: UChicago will maintain a directory of local businesses, products and services near the University’s campus. The listings will be available to the University community.
  3. How is the University of Chicago involved with CASE?
    Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and World Business Chicago (WBC) launched Chicago Anchors for a Strong Economy (CASE), a new program to strengthen Chicago’s economy by building ties between the city’s largest institutions and its neighborhood-based businesses. Anchor institutions that have committed to the program include the University of Chicago, University of Chicago Medicine, City of Chicago, Cook County, Illinois Institute of Technology, Rush Medical Center, University of Illinois Chicago, Advocate Health Care, and Commonwealth Edison.

    The program assesses participating anchor institutions’ product and service needs and compares those needs with neighborhood business assets. Participating businesses will be invited to bid on supplier contracts with the anchor institutions, including the University of Chicago and the Medical Center. For potential suppliers with limited experience working with large institutions, CASE will offer training to help prepare them to compete for business contracts.

    CASE is modeled on an effort begun at the University of Chicago and the University of Chicago Medical Center in mid-2013. Based on existing spending and local industry presence, the University and Medical Center identified opportunities to expand relationships with businesses in mid-South Side neighborhoods. The University hired Next Street, a consulting firm nationally recognized for its work with anchor institutions, to develop a training program to provide small business owners with critical skills and resources needed to do business with large organizations.

    UChicago invited a group of local businesses to participate in training beginning in March 2014. Following this pilot effort, the University and Medical Center will continue to support capacity building for South Side businesses through the CASE program.
  4. How are UChicago Local and CASE different from the Diversity Program already in place at UChicago?
    Like the Diversity Program, UChicago Local and the University’s participation in CASE is an ongoing commitment to how the University of Chicago buys goods and services. While the Diversity Program focuses on M/WBE businesses, UChicago Local focuses on businesses based within neighborhoods surrounding the University’s South Side campus, regardless of race or gender.
  5. What kinds of suppliers is the University of Chicago seeking through UChicago Local and CASE?
    UChicago Local and CASE will focus on areas where the University currently does business that could potentially be transferred to a competitive local vendor. These currently include eight categories:
    • Consulting and Professional Services
    • Plant and Maintenance Services
    • Food Supplies, Dining and Social Activities
    • Supplies and Equipment (non-shop)
    • Transportation and Livery Services
    • Shop Supplies and Equipment
    • Equipment Lease/Rental
    • Space Lease/Rental
  6. What neighborhoods are the University of Chicago and UChicago Medicine targeting through UChicago Local and CASE, and why?
    UChicago aims to create opportunities for businesses within the following Chicago zip codes: 60609, 60615, 60616, 60619, 60621, 60637, 60649 and 60653. These zip codes roughly align with the nine Mid-South Side neighborhoods of Douglas, Oakland, Grand Boulevard, Kenwood, Washington Park, Hyde Park, Greater Grand Crossing, Woodlawn, and South Shore. UChicago Local and the University’s participation in CASE are part of broader efforts to support local businesses and the health and vitality of neighborhoods near our campus.
  7. Are businesses that complete the CASE program guaranteed a contract?
    CASE is about providing opportunities for businesses.  Firms that participate in CASE are not guaranteed a contract with any of the participating anchors. All firms, including those that are ready to compete for anchors’ procurement opportunities, and those that are enrolled in Next Street’s business advisory services, must proceed through an anchor’s standard procurement process.
  8. Can current or past vendors for UChicago apply to CASE?
    Yes. Visit the CASE website for information on applying to the program.
  9. Will current vendors for the University or UChicago Medicine be required to apply to CASE?
    No. Current vendors are not required to participate in the CASE program to continue a contract with UChicago or UChicago Medicine. Vendors that believe they could benefit from training offered through the program are welcome to apply.
  10. How will applying to CASE affect current or future contracts for companies currently providing products or services to UChicago or other anchors?
    Applying to or participating in CASE will have no impact on current vendor contracts. Vendors who apply and participated in capacity building training may be better prepared for other opportunities.
  11. Can a company become a UChicago vendor without going through CASE?
    CASE is just one way for companies to be considered by the University of Chicago. For information about becoming a vendor or supplier of the University, please visit the Financial Services website. For information about becoming a vendor/supplier of The University of Chicago Medical Center, please contact the Purchasing Department at 773.702.9400 or e-mail purchasing1@uchospitals.edu.

    Suppliers interested in providing the University of Chicago with information about their business should complete and submit the Supplier Information Form and review the University’s Supplier Guide. The University’s Procurement and Payment Services also references the directory of businesses registered with the City of Chicago as a minority or woman-owned enterprise for new local sources of suppliers.
  12. How does a company participate in UChicago Local, but not CASE?
    Interested business owners with operations in the Mid-South Side zip codes/neighborhoods listed above, interested in in getting involved with UChicago Local, should send an email to local@uchicago.edu with the name and address of the business, a description of the business, and contact information including your name and phone number.
  13. How can a company apply to CASE?
    To be considered for CASE, businesses must apply through the CASE website.

If your question about UChicago Local or the University of Chicago’s participation in CASE is not answered here, email your question to local@uchicago.edu or call 773-834-7866. For a list of frequently asked questions about CASE, visit the CASE website.