CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today announced the first 15 digital start-up companies and new entrepreneurs that will be housed at “1871,” the new digital technology center located at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. Designed to help launch and grow early-stage tech start-ups, the new 50,000 square foot tech center will have the capacity to house up to 400 individuals or more than 100 start-ups when it opens on May 2. The space will gather start-ups together, creating a community of mentors, partners, peers, developers and investors to spark innovation and create good-paying jobs.
“We want Illinois to be the nation’s high-tech and innovation capital,” Governor Quinn said. “This new center will provide up-and-coming technology entrepreneurs with the resources they need to expand their businesses, create jobs and grow our economy.”
With a recent surge of entrepreneurship, Illinois now ranks second in the nation, trailing only California, for its number of high-tech start-ups, according to the Illinois Innovation Index. In recent years, annual venture capital investments to Chicago’s start-up firms have risen to more than $1 billion for the first time since 2000.
To advance that growth, Governor Quinn was one of the center’s earliest supporters, helping to take the center from planning stages to reality. During his 2012 State of the State Address, the Governor announced that the state is providing a $2.3 million investment in “1871” through the Illinois Jobs Now! capital plan, to help foster and launch digital start-ups. Scheduled to open on May 2, the new space will help meet the critical need for affordable, flexible space among Chicago’s growing digital technology community.
“We are so grateful for Governor Quinn and the state of Illinois’ support for 1871 and innovation throughout Illinois,” said Kevin Willer, a member of the Governor’s Innovation Council and president and CEO of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, which will manage operations at 1871. “There has been an incredible response from the community in building this co-working center for digital entrepreneurs and we look forward to catalyzing digital tech expansion in Chicago when we open our doors on May 2.”
Located on the 12th floor of the Merchandise Mart, this 50,000 square foot tech center can accommodate up to 400 individuals. Since the application period began in January, more than 300 tech start-ups have already submitted applications to rent space in 1871. The name and concept for the center was motivated by the period of innovation that followed the Great Chicago Fire in October 1871.
The first group of tenants includes: SimpleRelevance, personalized technology provider for e-commerce merchants; ProOnGo, maker of QuickBooks-compatible web and mobile applications; and the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition.
Also locating at “1871” will be Code Academy, which teaches up-and-coming innovators the basics of web development and design. Code Academy will collaborate with 1871 to advance the educational initiatives for tenants by hosting, sponsoring, and coordinating programming focused on technology, design and business.
As part of his ongoing commitment to boosting innovation in Illinois, Governor Quinn has been aggressive in leveraging Illinois' strengths to capture the knowledge economy. The Quinn Administration has made significant progress in fostering innovation with strategies for financing, leadership and access, and state support for public-private partnerships. Launched in February 2011, the Illinois Innovation Council (www.IllinoisInnovation.com) works to ensure the state remains on the cutting-edge in the global economy. The council is actively working to advance innovation in Illinois.
Today’s announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s aggressive business agenda that is helping move the Illinois economy forward. The state maintains a large portfolio of programs, which is designed to help Illinois businesses thrive in today’s economy. For more information, please visit www.ilbiz.biz. For more information on "1871,” visit www.1871.com.
© Illinois Science and Technology Coalition
Illustration by Dieter Braun