When Method, a manufacturer of soap and cleaning products, was looking for a U.S. factory site location, among their top priorities were 1) creating jobs where people live and 2) locating near transit.
While it would have been much easier to build on undeveloped land far from downtown, Method wanted to be in a place their employees could easily access and chose to build their factory in Chicago’s North Pullman neighborhood.
Not only did Method prioritize convenience, the company places a strong value on sustainability, with transportation playing a prominent role. Designated a highly sustainable LEED Platinum facility, the building achieved that status not only because of its brownfield restoration, wind turbine and solar panels, but also because of its location near buses and trains. The door of the factory is located one mile from the Metra 111th Street Station, and the 111A CTA bus runs along 111th Street with a stop at the entrance of the access road to the factory.
When Method constructed the factory, it built limited parking and offered pre-tax transit benefits to increase sustainability of the site and with the intention of having a large share of employees use transit. However it has been a challenge for employees to use transit as a primary mode. When the factory first opened, the company operated a shuttle from the 95th Street Red Line CTA station—the last stop on the line—and from downtown Chicago. Since work shifts start very early in the morning, Method worked to synchronize the shuttle with train schedules to ensure employees could get to work on time. However, due to low usage, Method shifted from its shuttle program to offering a carpool incentive program, providing gas and gift cards.
Part of the challenge to connecting more employees to transit is that workers also live in Indiana or the north and western suburbs and do not live near transit. The company still has a commitment to hire within adjacent zip codes and seeks to promote bus use for as many employees as possible.
Method funded construction of a sidewalk from the factory entrance to the bus stop on the main road, because pedestrian infrastructure plays a critical role in transit viability. Yet despite this sidewalk, the limited nearby retail and lunch options and overall low walkability of the neighborhood, which is undergoing other industrial and commercial development, means many employees rely on their cars if they want to leave the factory for lunch or break.
Both Method and other incoming employers in the Pullman area—like the Whole Foods Distribution Center—seek sustainable transportation options for employees. Therefore, Method will continue to advocate for improvements at the Metra station and other infrastructure to make transit more viable for workers.