The Hatchery to Incubate 100 New Businesses in the Food Industry Yearly

Mayor Rahm Emanuel led the project announcement for The Hatchery Chicago, a $34 million food and beverage incubator, slated to open in East Garfield Park in fall 2018. Once constructed, entrepreneurs working out of their homes and shared kitchens will have a space where they can grow their businesses, resulting in wealth creation in East Garfield Park and burgeoning small businesses in Chicago.

Anthony Waller, board member of Accion Chicago, described his personal struggles with growing his Catering Out the Box small business. In his early years, he wasted $50,000 developing the wrong type of space to expand. He is excited about The Hatchery Chicago because it will help small businesses avoid costly mistakes and offer the right learning environment that can help launch a business in the right direction. The Hatchery Chicago will provide 67,000 square feet of space for small business owners to learn how to best grow their food and beverage products and services. It will feature 56 private kitchens, a shared kitchen, office and storage space and training facilities, all at value added to the entrepreneurs.

The Hatchery Chicago is a joint venture between Industrial Council of the Nearwest Chicago (ICNC) and Accion Chicago. The Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago is home to one of the largest business incubators in the country with over 110 tenants in its 416,000 square foot facility. ICNC works with start-ups and established businesses in industries such as manufacturing, food processing, and technology. Accion Chicago is a community development financial institution (CDFI) that provides small business loans for small companies throughout Illinois and Northwest Indiana. Accion Chicago will move their offices to The Hatchery Chicago providing access to capital as these entrepreneurs expand into their own facilities.

Funding for The Hatchery Chicago is coming from titan food companies and foundations such as Conagra Brands, Kellogg, Griffith Foods, The Coleman Foundation and Lucas Walton Fund of the Walton Family Foundation. This project is also bringing together a group of CDFIs and banks to provide financing for the project. CDFIs are certified by the U.S. Treasury’s CDFI Fund as specialized financial intermediaries that lend and invest in distressed communities, guided by a mission to align capital with social, economic, and political justice. Chicago has a robust CDFI industry and recently The Chicago Community Trust has led a Community-Based Lending Coordination Roundtable to focus on more intentional coordination among mission driven lenders that will allow for easier navigation and access to needed capital for projects such as The Hatchery. IFF is working with CCLF, LISC Chicago and others on The Hatchery Chicago’s financing package.

Mayor Emanuel proclaimed, “This is a historical moment for the City of Chicago because The Hatchery Chicago is the first publicly and private funded innovative space outside of downtown Chicago linking community and companies together.” The City of Chicago is providing TIF Financing and other public support for the project.