New food business incubator ‘hatches’ on Chicago’s west side August 3, 2017

The Hatchery,” Chicago’s latest food business incubator, is projected to bring more than 900 jobs to Chicago’s East Garfield Park neighborhood over the next five years, including 150 jobs in the first year. The project was announced at a special event with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday, July 11.

IFF played an essential early developer role on the project in collaboration with Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago (ICNC), one of the oldest business incubators in the U.S., and Accion Chicago, a long-standing micro-lender. Up to 75 food industry businesses can be housed in the 80,000-square-foot facility, which will be renovated to provide both private and shared spaces that foster food entrepreneurship at every stage of development.

“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,” Mayor Emanuel said. “But The Hatchery will do more than strengthen Chicago’s position in the food industry; it will also serve as a vital community resource and partner for residents across the West Side of Chicago.”

The Hatchery’s shared spaces will include dry/cold storage, loading docks, and commercial kitchen equipment. Additionally, the incubator will give membership, networking, and access to customers and suppliers even to companies not physically located in the building.

The Hatchery also will provide a new home for Accion Chicago, which will serve as the anchor tenant and make loans available to both tenants and members. IFF’s role includes buying, developing, and owning the property until it’s completed and ready to sell to the other partners. In October 2016, IFF also closed on $666,000 in predevelopment loans to keep the project moving forward.

Estimated total costs are about $33 million, with potential funding sources to include partner equity, new markets tax credits, tax increment financing district funds, conventional debt, and donations. The public-private partnership brings together government, corporate, and nonprofit resources and will enable company growth and job creation by removing the need for capital-intensive, food-specific smaller spaces.

In the Chicago metro area, food manufacturing is a rapidly expanding industry, accounting for nearly 17,000, or 26 percent, of all manufacturing jobs in the city. The Hatchery will help this growing segment as an innovation lab for local big food businesses as well as a networking and learning community for early-stage food companies.

The Hatchery will join more than 150 food business incubators across the country. These incubators help support local entrepreneurs, strengthen their city’s food scene, and catalyze small businesses in their neighborhood.