The Hatchery, a food incubator on Chicago’s Near Northwest Side, plans to open a 67,000-square-foot facility in East Garfield Park in fall 2018. The $30 million project is expected to generate up to 900 jobs over the next five years, according to city officials. (City of Chicago)
The Hatchery, a food incubator on Chicago’s Near Northwest Side, is expected to break ground this fall on a $30 million facility in East Garfield Park, possibly spurring an influx of jobs in an impoverished neighborhood if everything goes according to plan.
The project marks an intriguing addition to a changing food industry in Chicago, where large processed food companies are increasingly rubbing shoulders with start-ups in hopes of keeping pace with — or catching up to — shifting consumer tastes. The Hatchery will nurture small food businesses, while also bringing about 150 new jobs to East Garfield Park in the first year and up to 900 jobs over the first five years, city officials said.
The new 67,000-square-foot home for The Hatchery, a joint venture of Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago and Accion Chicago, is receiving a mix of public and private investment to get started: about $8 million in city support, mostly through tax increment financing, as well as undisclosed sums from giant food companies such as Chicago-based Conagra Foods and Battle Creek, Mich.-based Kellogg Company.
"It’s an exciting project in an area that could use the investment. We plan to be there for a long, long time," Steve DeBretto, executive director of Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago, said Monday.
Construction is planned to begin in October or November, with the facility opening in fall 2018, DeBretto said.
The Hatchery hopes to support food start-ups as they grow with access to resources, expertise and exposure to established food companies. As members eventually outgrow the shared kitchen spaces, they can rent one of the 56 on-site private food production areas, DeBretto said.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel lauded the project in a news release, noting that it follows large food and beverages companies such as Conagra, Kraft Heinz, Beam Suntory and Mead Johnson that have moved headquarters to the city in recent years.
"Chicago is the global culinary capital and the Hatchery will give our local entrepreneurs access to food and beverage companies that operate across the world," Emanuel said in the release.
Hatchery members will have access to business loans through Accion, which is moving its headquarters into the new building, the city news release said. And West Side residents will be able to attend job training and food classes, among other events. The Hatchery will also host Garfield Park’s neighborhood market.
Currently, The Hatchery is located at Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago, a massive business incubator in the West Town neighborhood, and has about 55 members, a mix of consumer packaged goods businesses, meal delivery services and catering companies, said Natalie Shmulik, the food business consultant who manages the program.
The incubator’s new digs likely will nearly double that membership count in the first year and drive new development in the surrounding area, Shmulik said.
"Generally for Chicago, it’s going to be such a great opportunity to showcase all the innovators and entrepreneurs," she said. "I think it will have an immediate impact."
According to the mayor’s office, the facility will be built on land near the Kedzie Green Line station at the southeast corner of Lake Street and Kedzie Avenue, some of which was city-owned land sold to The Hatchery for $1 a parcel.