CHICAGO – World Business Chicago (WBC) and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel today launched Seed Chicago, a collaboration with Kickstarter that will highlight projects that create jobs and economic growth in Chicago’s neighborhoods. Using Kickstarter’s online platform, Seed Chicago aggregates attention to local small business and community projects on a curated webpage and will launch initially with 11 innovative projects from around Chicago.
Kickstarter’s crowdfunding platform unites project creators with potential backers, allowing anyone to pledge support online. Seed Chicago is one of Kickstarter’s first curated city pages focused on projects that drive economic activity at the neighborhood level. The 11 projects on Seed Chicago are all small businesses and community development projects in Chicago’s neighborhoods looking to create jobs and expand local business.
“Chicago is now and has always been a city defined by its neighborhoods, and for us to realize our aspirations for the city’s future, our neighborhoods must be engines of economic, cultural, educational and recreational opportunity,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Seed Chicago provides an innovative tool for Chicagoans and others to give back to our communities by funding projects that have a direct impact on economic growth.”
Seed Chicago is a direct result of the Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs, developed by World Business Chicago at the request of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel last year in order to accelerate Chicago’s economic growth. A central Plan strategy is to nurture neighborhoods and foster continuous development of local talent, business and real estate assets. Through Seed Chicago, small business and community projects harness technology to capture needed financial resources for growing their neighborhoods.
Accion Chicago and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) assisted WBC in identifying Seed Chicago’s 11 inaugural projects. More projects will be added to the page, with an open call for neighborhood-focused Kickstarter ventures to be announced. Small businesses and community development projects interested in future participation can sign up to receive updates via WBC’s site. Seed Chicago seeks to be the first of a suite of financial tools available to businesses and communities.
“All of the Seed Chicago project owners have the ability to foster growth in their neighborhoods, and we are helping raise awareness for their unique stories,” said Michael Sacks, CEO Grosvenor Capital Management and World Business Chicago vice-chairman. ”By curating our own page for Chicago, WBC, the City, and Chicagoans can have a direct impact on these initial 11 organizations and many more to come, further facilitating economic growth and creating jobs in the city.”
Julia Stasch, Vice President of U.S. Programs of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and co-chair of the Plan’s neighborhood strategy working team will host a roundtable discussion with the 11 project owners on April 15th. The event will be open to media.
The 11 projects on Seed Chicago are located throughout Chicago neighborhoods:
Englewood: Altogether Lovely hair salon owner opening hair braiding and maintenance training school
Garfield Park: Garfield Park Community Council creating fresh food market and pop up coffee stand
Lakeview: Second Act LLC breast prosthetic business seeking funds to create educational video for breast cancer survivors to be distributed to healthcare professionals
Logan Square: Beauty & Brawn art gallery in Logan Square seeking funds to create photography educational program for youth in the neighborhood
Pilsen: Tamale Spaceship food truck seeking funds to establish permanent restaurant location
Wicker Park: MaZi Dance Studio opening third location
Community Development Projects:
Albany Park: North River Commission Albany Park Global
Garden helping refugees assimilate into U.S. culture by training them as market gardeners; will use funds to build beehives and a seed-saving production facility
Englewood: Growing Homes Urban Garden and Farm looking to purchase second hoop house/ greenhouse for workforce training programs
Englewood: Teamwork Englewood developing program to teach software programming and coding to at-risk youth
Logan Square: Architreasures creating art mosaics on Fullerton Avenue business corridor
Pilsen: The Resurrection Project to host a bi-monthly marketplace featuring cultural events and local businesses
This initiative comes on the heels of the successful launch of Windy City Hoops, a crowd-funded basketball program targeted at providing at-risk youth a safe and productive option for their free time. Launched by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and basketball legend Isaiah Thomas, Windy City Hoops raised enough resources to start the league after five weeks of online fundraising.
Mayor Emanuel has made the support and growth of the city’s small businesses a key priority of his administration, including the formation of the Chicago Microlending Institute (CMI) last year. The first-in-the-nation institute, run by Accion Chicago, trains new lenders to make targeted loans to small businesses and administers the Small Business Loan Fund, a $1 million pool of loan capital that is aimed at supporting the smallest businesses in Chicago with targeted microlending.
Back the initial projects on the Seed Chicago Kickstarter page, or learn more on the Seed Chicago FAQ page or by following @WorldBizChicago on Twitter. To sign up to receive information on being featured on Seed Chicago in the future, visit the project submission page.