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.
I also want to thank our many partners, donors and sponsors who are well represented here tonight without whose support we could never have achieved the remarkable results of the last several years. With their help, we’ve built a stronger, more sustainable, and more effective business model for 1871 which will make it last far into the future.
We’re creating more and more “real” businesses and they are, in turn, creating thousands of new technology-enabled jobs in our city and state. Our events and educational programs are the envy of every other incubator in the world. Our army of hundreds of volunteer mentors rivals the resources of some of the best business schools in the country.
Nationally, we’re the center of technology and disruptive innovation in the Midwest and the heart of the “rise of the rest”. 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.
Globally, Chicago has become THE jumping off place for international businesses to launch in the United States. As you saw in the opening video, we continue to expand our connections to leading cities and countries throughout the world. We were honored to host the new Mayor of London and to witness the signing of a new tech and data MOU between our two cities at 1871. And I was proud and pleased to represent 1871 (and to fly our t-shirt colors) at the United Nations just a couple of months ago.
The proceeds from this dinner help to support the CEC and all of 1871’s activities. Last year at this dinner I announced the 3.0 expansion of 1871 (adding another 42,000 sq feet) and I’m pleased to report that it is already overflowing with excited and extremely pleased tenants, members, and new business partners like the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Bucksbaum Retail Properties and Accenture, among others.
1871 3.0 is the highest tech and the most beautifully designed and built-out space in the city (and maybe the country) and we are grateful to our team of professionals from Gensler, Skender and Barbara S. Pollack & Associates for pulling off another amazing project on time and on budget. 1871 3.0 was built without a single dollar from the city or the state and with the support and help of the tremendous team from Silicon Valley Bank which provided a portion of the funding.
We recently launched our 3rd WiSTEM cohort with 12 amazing women-owned and operated businesses and some amazing initial programming. WiSTEM and our IHCC incubator are just two of the multiple fronts on which we are working to expand and diversify the population at 1871 and to grow our programs to serve more and more underserved sectors of the community.
I also want to note that a great deal of our success comes from our close connections to our University partners and we were very excited to officially add a dedicated space at 1871 for DePaul University which just recently opened.
Finally, as I approach the end of my third year as CEO of CEC and 1871, I 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.
And now, we have a VERY special treat for you which will require your attention and ideally your complete silence. Marshall Davis Jones, one of the major spoken word artists in the world today, is here tonight to perform an original piece of his poetry for us.
Storytelling in all its forms is at the very heart of entrepreneurship and no one tells it like Marshall. Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please, for Marshall Davis Jones.