I want to thank you all for joining us tonight and for all of your continued support for our entrepreneurs and for the tech community in Chicago and Illinois which continues to expand by leaps and bounds every day. Community is at the core of everything we are about and our community is stronger and more connected than ever as I hope you all know from the occasional emails, which you might sometimes receive from me.
At the same time, we’re creating more and more sustainable businesses and they are, in turn, creating thousands of new jobs. Nationally, we are already the epicenter of technology and disruptive innovation in the Midwest, the heart of what Steve Case calls the “rise of the rest”, and we’re not stopping any time soon. It’s great to be the biggest mega-incubator and start-up factory in the world, but our goal has always been to continue to be the best. We expect to be sharing good news and even more progress in this regard with you shortly as this year’s UBI Index incubator-ranking awards are announced next month in Toronto.
In addition, we are continuing our campaign to make sure that Chicago becomes THE jumping off place for international businesses that want to launch in the United States. We now work closely with our own partners in London, Mexico City, Toronto, Tel Aviv, Turkey, Brazil and Columbia and globally thru the Google for Entrepreneurs Network as well. Paris is coming soon.
The proceeds from this dinner help to support the CEC and particularly all of 1871’s activities in more areas than I have time to enumerate. But I do want to take time to mention our continued excitement around our veterans’ initiative (now called The Bunker Labs); the launch of the first WiSTEM cohort with 13 amazing women-owned and operated businesses and some amazing initial programming; and the multiple fronts on which we are working to expand and diversify the population at 1871 and everything we are doing to grow our programs to serve more and more underserved sectors of the community.
In addition, a great deal of our success comes from our close connections to our University partners and especially to the graduate programs at Kellogg and Booth. When you hear great news about GrubHub or Braintree, it’s important to remember that - just as Cleversafe got some of its earliest money from CEC and Chris and his poker buddies helped fund CEC – these businesses grew out of the Booth New Venture Challenge (which is celebrating its 20th year anniversary this year) and that the NU Venture Challenge has also given us a number of exciting new ventures as well.
Not surprisingly, all of this excitement and growth has created increased demands for space and resources at 1871 and I’m pleased to officially announce tonight that 1871 will be expanding again.
Just to review -
1871 1.0 opened in May 2012 (Slide 2)
1871 2.0 opened in October 2014 (Slide 3)
1871 3.0 will open directly above the 1.0 space next January (Slide 4)
1871 3.0 will have alumni offices, new tenants, classrooms, labs, etc. (Slide 5)
It will be connected by a new staircase, which will be sponsored and funded by JLL, which has been at our side since 1871 begin and continues to support us in many important ways. (Slide 6)
It is already fully leased with these tenants, members, sponsors, universities, incubators, labs and partners as well. (Slide 7)
So in total we will have almost 120,000 square feet of space (Slide 8)
It will be an extraordinary and special space and we are very grateful for the continued extraordinary work and help we receive from our partners in construction and design at Skender and Gensler. (Slide 9 – new renderings)
We are very proud to note that the expansion will be funded exclusively by 1871 (with the help of The Merchandise Mart and Silicon Valley Bank) and with no financial support from either the City or the State.
Finally, as I approach the end of my second year as CEO of CEC and 1871, I just want to thank my team and all of our Board members as well as all of you for your help, support, guidance and enthusiasm. No one does anything today all by themselves and 1871 is as good an example as any place in the world of an activated, passionate and committed community in action. You should all be very proud of what we’ve built together.