The Hatchery recently unveiled its 17-member advisory board, which will be tasked with ensuring that area residents benefit from the development. | File photo

The Hatchery food business incubator, which is scheduled to open its physical location in East Garfield Park by the end of the year, officially released the names of West Side residents who will make up its Community Advisory Board.

The advisory board was set up to help figure out the best ways the Hatchery can benefit community residents and local entrepreneurs. The move came after a significant number of East Garfield Park residents complained that the entities involved with the Hatchery didn’t do enough to reach out to the community. At the time, the residents suggested that the money going into the Hatchery would be better used to help businesses that are already there.

According to the Garfield Park Community Council’s Aug. 9 newsletter, the advisory board is made up of 17 members. In addition to setting up the Advisory Board, the Hatchery had since put together a fact sheet detailing ways in which the food incubator would benefit West Side residents and businesses. It also launched several educational events geared specifically toward West Side entrepreneurs.

As previously reported by Austin Weekly News, the Hatchery grew out of Industrial Council of Northwest Chicago’s desire to develop a business incubator specifically geared toward food-related businesses — something its existing business incubator at Hatchery Chicago 320 N. Damen Avenue couldn’t accommodate. 

The current incubator is being used as a temporary site for the Hatchery while its permanent home is being built on the southeast corner of Kedzie Avenue and Lake Street. 

The Hatchery is co-owned by ICNC and Accion Chicago, with IFF, a non-profit lender, acting as a third co-owner while the building is under construction. Once it opens, it will also serve as Accion Chicago’s headquarters and Garfield Park Farmers Market’s year-round home.

In an April, Accion Chicago CEO Brad McConnell said that the advisory council, “will be in place to give us advice [on how] to use the opportunities this building creates to maximize value to the community members. They will be advising Hatchery Chicago and the owners.”

According to the board membership application obtained through the link in GPCC’s newsletter, the board will meet monthly. The newsletter described the members as “the main points of contact to and from their neighborhoods and the Hatchery,” adding that “they will bring information from their neighborhoods to the Hatchery and bring back information from the Hatchery to their neighborhoods.”

The application said that the Hatchery was looking for community residents who have a network of of people they know in their neighborhoods. It also indicated that the food incubator was looking for people who were “committed to helping the Hatchery succeed in its mission of growing small businesses and helping local residents get jobs with those businesses.” 

Among other things, the application asked the candidates what they think the Hatchery can do to connect West Side residents with employment and business opportunities, as well as what Hatchery can do to best benefit the neighborhood.

The Hatchery announced the Community Advisory Council membership on July 18, on the Hatchery Chicago Neighbors Facebook page.

A look at the members that were selected reveals a wide range of backgrounds and connections that extend throughout the West Side. 

For instance, Vanessa Stokes is an artist and a project coordinator for Austin Coming Together. David Blackmon is a local chef who works as a program manager for Chicago Public Schools’ Hospitality & Culinary Arts program. Angela Taylor manages the Garfield Park Farmers Market while E. Bernard Jennings serves as the executive director of the North Lawndale-based Lawndale Business Renaissance Association.


Igor Studenkov

Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Austin Weekly News since 2015. His work has also appeared...