It's gotta be pretty tough to be an entrepreneur in Chicago without having heard of 1871. That's a number that has a lot of significance in this town because, yes, it was when that scapegoated cow allegedly started the Great Chicago Fire. But in 2012, 1871 refers not just to the fire but the city's resurgence thereafter. Kevin Willer, the president of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, has taken back that blaze and since May 2 turned it into a metaphor for the fiery passion local entrepreneurs have. How?
By turning a 50,000-square foot work space in the Merchandise Mart into an inspiring tech hub where startups can thrive, flourish and then hopefully graduate. In its slightly more than 100 days of existence, it's already been the proud pop-pop of one graduate: Food Genius.
To clarify, though, 1871 is not an incubator. Willer and the CEC provide the space for entrepreneurs to do their thing and reap all the benefits of a fantastic, spacious and extremely presentable co-working space. I could go on and on telling you about it, or I could do one better by showing you it. Hop over to the gallery to see the shots and my thoughts on what I saw, thanks to an invitation from Willer and Melissa Lederer, 1871's marketing consultant. Thanks guys!
Want us to come tour your offices? Gives us a shout-out on Twitter with your best elevator pitch!
David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.