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Chicago Breaks Ground On Food Business Incubator

By Lauren R. Hartman, Product Development Editor

Oct 26, 2017

The city of Chicago will build a $34-million business incubator called "The Hatchery," the first specifically for food-related ventures, that will open next year.

The 67,000-sq.-ft. facility will help local food and beverage entrepreneurs start out on the road to eventual success. Supported by a partnership between local non-profits, Accion Chicago, Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago and IFF, the Kellogg Co., Griffith Foods and Conagra Brands, among others, the facility will be equipped with tools, resources and networking opportunities to encourage success, said a statement from the mayor’s office. At a ground-breaking, Chicago's Mayor Emanuel said there will be space-shared kitchens, storage and areas for workforce training sessions.

It will also be the home of famed chef Rick Bayless’ culinary training program for low-income, high-school- and college-age students. "I believe our city is rich with untapped resources. If we can develop a way to cultivate them, both our restaurants and our community will be the better for it." Bayless said in a statement.

Chicago’s food and beverage industry is currently second largest in the nation, with 4,500 companies, 130,000 employees and $32 billion in sales, the mayor said. City officials said the incubator facility could create about 150 jobs in its first year. 

The Hatchery aims to provide a variety of services and space for food businesses including food grade space for about 100 startup or early stage businesses, shared kitchens, storage, office space and areas for training sessions and community meetings, according to a statement.