25,000-Square-Foot Expansion Will Allow Tech Hub to Continue to Grow and Create Jobs
CHICAGO - Governor Pat Quinn today was joined by 1871 CEO Howard A. Tullman to officially open a major expansion of the innovative digital startup hub. The $2.5 million expansion, funded by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), will increase 1871's current size by 50 percent and create space for alumni companies, venture capital firms and several incubators, accelerators and programs. In total, the new space will allow 1871 to house approximately 400 companies within The Merchandise Mart. The announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to create jobs and drive Illinois’ economy forward.
“The growth of our technology and innovation sectors are helping to drive Illinois' comeback,” Governor Quinn said. “Since its inception, 1871 and its alumni companies have created more than 1,000 jobs, and this new space will allow the hub to expand and create more high-tech companies and good jobs right here in Illinois.”
The expansion project allows 1871 to provide offices to alumni companies that have outgrown their current space but wish to continue to grow within the 1871 environment and utilize 1871’s programming and resources. In addition, the new space will house several venture capital firms seeking to engage the Chicago market. It also allows 1871 to develop a number of industry-specific incubators, accelerators and programs in the critical areas of food technology, real estate technology, education technology, financial technology, the Internet of Things, startup engineering, veteran-owned technology businesses and women-owned technology businesses.
"1871 is committed to continually raising the bar in terms of its opportunities for members and service to Chicago’s entrepreneurial and technology communities,” 1871 CEO Howard A. Tullman said. “The primary goal of 1871 is to foster the innovative new technology businesses that are crucial drivers of Illinois’ job and economic growth, and we sincerely appreciate the Governor’s consistent support for this mission. This expansion is an important component of our ongoing efforts to provide an extensive set of resources and facilities to our member companies.”
Thus far, 1871 has announced the official launch of six new programs that will open or grow within the expansion space, including:
· The Bunker: the nation’s first veterans-exclusive technology business accelerator, which will harness the leadership experiences of veterans as a strategic differentiator for startup and early stage veteran-owned, technology-enabled businesses.
· LEAP Innovations: an incubator that seeks to foster the development of the best learning technologies by supporting startups that create these technology products and programs for key learning gaps and helping pilot these technologies in real-life learning environments.
· The DeVry EdTech Incubator: an incubator designed to help startups develop new educational technologies to accelerate innovation in teaching and learning by offering mentorship, coaching and access to DeVry’s network of educational leaders.
· The Elmspring Real Estate Incubator: an incubator supporting startups that leverage technology to create solutions for complex challenges throughout the real estate industry. Elmspring seeks to foster clever and innovative concepts that disrupt traditional models in real estate and its related industries. 1871’s real estate technology incubator space is sponsored by DTZ.
· The Good Food Business Accelerator: a fellowship program focused on encouraging broad-based food entrepreneurship and leveraging technology in the food industry. Operated by FamilyFarmed.org, the GFBA will be the nation’s first business accelerator focused on building supply chains of sustainable local food.
· WiSTEM: a program for women-owned and operated technology businesses. In addition to its complete access to the 1871 community and all of its resources, WiSTEM will offer a rigorous yet flexible program to foster and support women entrepreneurs.
1871 was launched in partnership with the state of Illinois on May 2, 2012. The original 50,000-square-foot space was constructed through a $2.3 million state investment. To date, 1871 has graduated over 40 companies, who have collectively created over 500 jobs and raised over $40 million in venture capital funding.
“The expansion is a tremendous opportunity for my company,” Learnmetrics CEO and Co-Founder Julian Miller said. “We were growing rapidly and looking at what the next phase of our company would look like, and we were starting to think we were going to have to trade off some of the benefits of being in a space like 1871, but then they announced the expansion. Being a part of that, you get to drive forward what this next phase is and help give feedback. Ultimately, we think it will be a tremendous partnership.”
The expansion comes after news in August that employers added 13,800 new jobs to the Illinois economy. During the last five years, Illinois has added 263,100 private sector jobs. These new positions have been created at small as well as large businesses in the state.
The Illinois unemployment rate hit a new six-year low in August when it fell to 6.7 percent, the lowest rate since before the Governor took office, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security. This is the lowest rate since August 2008 and a continuation of an uninterrupted drop in the state jobless rate that began in late 2013. The number of people employed in Illinois remains above six million, continuing a 2014 trend that has seen more people working in this state than at any time since early 2009.
Since taking office and inheriting decades of mismanagement, the Governor has enacted worker’s compensation reform and unemployment insurance reform to make Illinois a better place to do business, in addition to major fiscal reforms such as pension reform and Medicaid restructuring that are restoring fiscal stability to Illinois. Governor Quinn is also pushing a new tax cut for businesses that provide job training. By lowering the cost to train workers, this will make it easier for businesses to create new jobs and ensure workers have the skills to drive a 21st century economy.