Chicago to Open Food Biz Incubator for Local Entrepreneurs

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A new food and beverage business incubator that will support local entrepreneurs with tools and resources to reach success is poised to open next year in Chicago’s East Garfield Park.

A partnership between two Chicago nonprofits, Accion and ICNC, and two corporate partners, The Kellogg Co. and ConAgra Brands, The Hatchery will be based in a new $30 million facility that’s expected to create an estimated 150 jobs in the first year.

“Chicago is the global culinary capital and The Hatchery will give our local entrepreneurs access to food and beverage companies that operate across the world,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “But The Hatchery will do more than strengthen Chicago’s position in the food industry,” added Rahm, noting that it will also “serve as a vital community resource and partner for residents across the West Side of Chicago.”

The Hatchery will provide a variety of services and space for food businesses, including: food grade space for approximately 100 start-up or early stage food entrepreneurs, shared kitchens, storage, and office space, plus areas for workforce training sessions and community meetings. Members will also have access to loan capital from Accion, which will relocate its headquarters to The Hatchery.

Through a partnership with the Garfield Park Community Council (GPCC), access to many of these spaces and services will be offered to West Side residents at a significantly discounted rate. Community benefits to west side residents include: one-on-one technical assistance from Accion to current and potential entrepreneurs on the West Side, job readiness programs that will prepare community members to work for Hatchery tenant companies, free classes on relevant food & beverage industry topics, consulting services to local businesses and referrals to relevant industry experts, and discounted Hatchery memberships and use of the shared kitchen space.

The Hatchery will also host Garfield Park’s neighborhood market. Over five years the Hatchery is expected to support up to 900 jobs, most of which will be highly accessible, supported by training programs conducted on-site.

The new facility will be built on a currently vacant lot near the Kedzie Green Line Station. Construction is expected to start later this year and finish in 2018. The facility is receiving support from The Kellogg Company, Conagra Brands, the Coleman Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation and the City of Chicago, among others.

“Kellogg supports communities and helps to facilitate business growth and development in multiple ways,” noted Clive Sirkin, chief growth officer, The Kellogg Co. “Many of our Kellogg employees call Chicago home and we are proud to be a member of this vibrant city. Supporting The Hatchery is a mutually beneficial endeavor,” Sirkin continued, inclusive of shared expertise and best practices with local food industry innovators and entrepreneurs. “In turn, we will learn

from them and gain inspiration from their willingness to challenge convention. The consumer landscape is evolving faster than ever and the view through their unique lens will help us stay ahead of trends.”

Darren Serrao, Chief Growth Officer, Conagra Brands, said the company’s support of The Hatchery “is critical…because it underscores our commitment to using insights and creativity to drive brand-building and innovation. It also provides us an opportunity to evaluate young businesses and spot emerging trends early in the process of our disciplined approach to M&A. And finally, it allows us to extend our food culture into the Chicago community, supporting the city in being a thought-leader overall.”

“For more than 20 years, Accion has provided the capital, coaching, and connections that entrepreneurs need to grow, particularly in Chicago’s most challenging neighborhoods. We believe that this is the most effective way to create jobs and wealth in the neighborhoods that need them most,” Accion CEO Brad McConnell said. “The Hatchery will help us expand on that mission by providing affordable physical space to aspiring food entrepreneurs. We look forward to working closely with our partners in East Garfield to help the community grow.”

“The Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago has been incubating small food and beverage companies since 1980 and we’ve learned a lot about what they need to grow,” Steve DeBretto, Executive Director ICNC said. “The Hatchery will put them in the middle of an entrepreneurial ecosystem so they can teach and learn from each other. Add the kitchens, business support, and connections to corporate partners, and we’re eliminating the primary barriers food entrepreneurs face when trying to scale.”

Angela Taylor, Garfield Park community council board member and Garfield Park Neighborhood Market Manger, believes “the Hatchery will help to create a local food hub in Garfield Park and serve as both an economic and social engine for the community."

More information about The Hatchery can be found here. http://thehatcherychicago.org/


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