Illinois Helps Fund New Chicago Tech Center for Startups

By creating a collaborative community of entrepreneurs in Chicago's Merchandise Mart, the state of Illinois aims to increase innovation and job-growth in the region.
by | March 26, 2012 AT 6:30 PM

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and stakeholders speak at a press conference March 14, 2012, regarding the opening of 1871, an office for tech start-ups in downtown Chicago.

In an effort to lure more startups to the Windy City, a new 50,000-square-foot tech center is slated to open May 2nd on the 12th floor of the Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. The center, called 1871, is funded by a $2.3 million grant from the state and private sponsorships. It aims to create a community where entrepreneurs can collaborate as they grow their digital businesses. The center is being run by the non-profit Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, which has already received over 300 applications for a space that can house up to 400 individuals and roughly 100 startups. Costs for the space will range from $125 to $400 per month. Some of the amenities that the center will offer include conference rooms, storage space, use of A/V equipment, mentorship opportunities, and priority access to classes and seminars. The center is already attracting startups from similar facilities in Silicon Valley due to lower living expenses in Chicago and the ability to pay newly hired employees a lower salary than would be required elsewhere. Currently Illinois ranks second in the nation (after California) in the number of high-tech startups, according to a study done by the Illinois Innovation Council.