Since its launch in May 2012, Chicago’s 1871 has graduated close to three dozen startups, which altogether created nearly 400 jobs in Illinois and raised almost $40 million in venture capital (and these figures don’t even include all of 1871’s member companies). A little more than two years later, it seems that the tech entrepreneurship hub’s 50,000 square-foot space can no longer keep up with its rapid growth and success, which is why this morning’s announcement by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and 1871 CEO Howard A. Tullman regarding 1871’s planned 25,000 square-foot expansion wasn’t too much of a surprise.
“In just two short years, 1871, its member companies and alumni have created more than 1,000 jobs,” said Governor Quinn in a statement. “1871 has become a true entrepreneurial hub for our state and its expansion means more career opportunities for the hardworking residents of Illinois. We look forward to a strong partnership with 1871 as we continue to grow our start-up community and support our innovators.”
With $2.5 million from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), 1871’s expansion is aimed at further enabling the tech hub to contribute to job growth in the state. According to the announcement, the space expansion would allow for larger startups to continue growing within 1871; create an opportunity for 1871 to develop incubators and accelerators in areas of food tech, real estate tech, education tech, financial tech, startup engineering, and women-owned tech businesses; and provide a home for venture capital firms looking to make local investments.
“This expansion shows that our investment in the next generation of Chicago businesses is paying off,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “The jobs of tomorrow will come from the types of small businesses growing at 1871 today, and this expansion will allow even more entrepreneurs and businesses to locate here, bringing new jobs with them and supporting the city’s economic growth.”