Chicago’s food industry is busting at the seams as it were. It is “quickly becoming a hotbed of investment for startups in the food industry, befitting the city’s legacy of being the world’s hog butcher and stacker of wheat.”
Some recent trends include the merge between Kellogg and Conagra Brands, resulting in the provision of $34 million to set up the Hatchery – a food business incubator – due to open in November. Kraft Heinz recently established the Evolv Ventures Fund, which is the world’s “fifth-largest packaged food and beverage company.” According to investor and fund leader Bill Pescatello, the fund is: “about how can we be smarter, connect with startups and get a first look at emerging technologies. The distribution channels are being absolutely disrupted, with Amazon selling direct to consumers and doing delivery, along with Instacart. We’ll be heavily involved in investing in those areas.”
According to Pritzker Group VC Partner Matt McCall:
“The Midwest has the deepest bench strength in the world in food and ag. Fragmentation is the No. 1 enemy of an ecosystem. So if you can create clusters of resources and players focused on the same sector, you get a compounding flywheel.”
However, there is one question that leads to cause for concern: can the current economic (aging) demographic utilize the burgeoning food industry? According to the NPD’s study, Eating Patterns in America, while it is true the US economy is on an upswing, due to its “aging population and corresponding changes in life stage,” this will likely lead to a drop in “total eating occasions on a per capital basis.” The growth of the population is not likely to be huge and that will lead to a “less than one percent annual increase in total food and beverage demand, which isn’t significant enough to stop the decline in consumption occasions per capita.” As NPD food industry advisor David Portalatin noted:
Still, vis-à-vis Chicago, the food industry seems not to have taken a hit with an increase in industry startups including: Farmer’s Fridge, Fooda, RxBar, Home Chef, Simple Mills and Tovala.
Some tourists are looking for sporting events for their entertainment. As such, Chicago seems to be providing a great vibe drawing in many tourists. It has been found that, according to the Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau, “non-traditional sporting events such as paintball competition, dodge ball and drone racing are helping the south and southwest suburbs draw tourists and their spending power.”
Hotels are teeming with people with $105 million in revenue being generated during the fiscal year that ended June 2018, a slight decrease from 2017 which had a revenue of $107 million but the Bureau’s statistics found a slight increase from the 2017 65.6 percent rate average to 65.8 percent.
According to President and CEO of the Bureau Jim Garrett, sport tourism is “big business,” with Southland hosting the World Wiffle Ball Championship (July); regional dodge ball competition (August); regional drone racing and the National X-Ball League’s Midwest Paintball Championship (September).
There are lots of events going on for Chicagoans. For example, October 6 sees the fourth annual Bacon and Beer Classic, at Soldier Field. Featuring 100+ locally-brewed craft beers to drink down over 30 different “bacon-inspired” dishes made by local chefs, even the kids will enjoy interactive games and other family-friendly activities.
After all that carb-infused beer and bacon, the next day you’re bound to be ready for Chicago’s Marathon. Whether you’re up for the 26.2 miles or just want to spend the day cheering on other sweaty athletes, it’s still getting out the house and enjoying the sites of Chicago. Hang out at Millennium Park, Chinatown or Michigan Avenue (for the grand finale) and make a picnic day out of it.
Or if that seems too active, wait til later in the month. For two days (October 13 and 14), there is no fee to check out 250 cool local places. Thanks to the generosity of the Chicago Architectural Foundation, you will be privy to “behind-the-scenes looks at architectural gems and private spots.” New locations this year include: Ingersoll-Blackwelder House, Optimo and the Third Unitarian Church.
The 2018 Hindu Women Forum (HWF) organized a Hindu Women Conference at this year’s World Hindu Congress that was held in Chicago last month at Hotel Westin, 70 Yorktown Shopping Center, Lombard.
The conference is held every 4 years and is an amalgamation of Hindu women from “diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and professions, including business, science, politics, and the arts, to share ideas and experiences as well as their contributions to variety of spheres.”
2019 has been designated The Year of Chicago Theatre by the city, thanks to a push from its Mayor and Commissioner of the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), Mark Kelly. This is not intended to be an annual event; rather each year Chicago will be devoted to something else.
What this means is that in 2019, the theater industry will be given the chance to “refocus on a constituency that has been forgotten over the last year of internal navel-gazing: the audience.”
2017 in Chicago became known for the year brimming with public art, with 2018 focused on creative youth.
The Windy City has definitely become a player in the technological revolution. Thanks to its attractive business ecosystem, startups and Fortune 500 companies are enjoying what Chicago has to offer. Indeed, 110 honorees on the 2018 Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies were Chicago-based.
“number of wealthy census tracts has grown fourfold since 1970, people at the bottom are struggling as much as they always have, if not more—illustrating that it’s not just the white rural poor who are being left behind in today’s economy. The disconnect is why Andrew Diamond, the author of Chicago on the Make, has called Chicago “a combination of Manhattan smashed against Detroit.”
But plans are in place for additional affordable housing. For example, Logan Square is set to get 30% of the 117 units in the 120 foot tower by North Milwaukee Avenue. If the project is approved it will help Chicagoans with their housing problems. This is especially so since house prices have increased 17 percent this year.
The Chicago Conversion Project – an endeavor established by World Business Chicago, Safer Foundation, Manufacturing Renaissance, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and Chicago Federation of Labor (CFL) – at the end of July completed its business plan.
The goal is to “help retain Chicago’s industrial base by arranging the acquisition of manufacturing companies through ownership succession by groups of employees and High Road entrepreneurs, particularly African-American and Hispanic men and women.”
It is hoped that the collaboration will be able to help the transition process and identify target firms. Each of the organizations can access different networks and comes with unique skills.
For the community and economy in Chicago, this project provides a wonderful opportunity for growth.
Another group – the Chicagoland Cooperative Ecosystem – recently approached the Commission for its support of a 3 year pilot program that would encourage the development of worker owned cooperatives. According to Vice Chair of the Commission Marc Lane:
“These efforts are all driven by the notion that when employees, particularly disadvantaged populations, become owners of businesses, that will lift them out of poverty. They’ll be given a stake in the venture, self-respect and training that they otherwise wouldn’t have had.”
Dave from the City Beautiful talks about the wonders of Chicago including these facts:
• Home to the Obamas
• Most dominant metropolis in the interior of North America
• Almost 10 million residents
• 29 fortune 500 companies
• 2016 World Series Championship Chicago Cubs
• Biggest city between New York City and Los Angeles
He then details how Chicago got here as it wasn’t a foregone conclusion.
Two of the recent large business transactions that have occurred in the state of Chicago include a sale leaseback and a purchase sale agreement. We examine them both briefly here.
The first involves NY institutional fund advisor Angelo Gordon and Gold Standard Banking which just finalized its sale-leaseback for its 189K SF property at 3700 South Kedzie Ave. The buildings have been under the ownership of Gold Standard for more than two decades. According to its representative Erik Foster:
“This portfolio provided investors with tremendous long-term stability, as it is fully leased to a strong-credit tenant. The recession-resistant food industry tenant relies on the location for its operations, making this a solid investment with long-term growth potential for the new owner.”
In the last three years, the company expanded its Chicago site by 22K SF to house a new baking line to meet increased product demand. It also opened a 201K SF bakery in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, in 2017.
The second concerns Hilton Grand Vacations Inc. (HGV) in its purchase sale agreement of the top six floors of the 26-story DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Chicago Magnificent Mile. Working with Related Fund Management and The Chartres Lodging Group on the sale, this will be HGV’s first property in this market at a projected investment of around $54.5 million.
On September 21, 2018, make your way to the Aurora Downtown Campus. From 9.30am to 2.00pm, a marketing training seminar will be conducted by the Waubonsee Community College’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for anyone seeking to enhance their marketing skills and network with experts in the field.
Some of the marketing leaders who will be presenting at Marketing Mania! include: Danny Schuman, Patricia Beets and Jill Salzman. Schulman wrote the book ‘The Worst Business Model in the World: A New Kind of Guide for a New Kind of Entrepreneur.’ He also established marketing consultancy firm, Twist.
Patrica Beets works as a national correspondent and business reporter. Together with her husband David, she co-founded Dell Cove Spices & More in 2010 as an online hobby which is now being run full time by David in a commercial kitchen. Jill Salzman is a serial entrepreneur and author of ‘Found It: A Field Guide for Mom Entrepreneurs.’ She also co-hosts Breaking Down Your Business, a business podcast.