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1871 Technology Hub To Expand Merchandise Mart HQ

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CHICAGO (CBS) – If you’re an entrepreneur with a great tech idea, 1871 is an ideal place to go to develop your idea into an invention, and the Chicago company has been so successful, it’s expanding its headquarters at the Merchandise Mart.

CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports the state of Illinois has agreed to pump a $2.5 million grant into the tech incubator, to help 1871 expand its offices by 50 percent, and add 25,000 square feet of shared working space.

WBBM 780’s John Cody

architectural cruise 6 1871 Technology Hub To Expand Merchandise Mart HQ
WBBM 780/105.9FM

Howard Tullman, chief executive officer of 1871, said the tech incubator has been a rip-roaring success, graduating three dozen companies, and helping create 400 jobs. He was asked why, then, did 1871 need state financing for an expansion.

“Our plan is, in fact, to not be dependent on the community, but on the enlightened self-interest of businesses to work with us, because if they’re not here, if they’re not engaged in change and innovation, then they’re going to die,” Tullman said.

More than 250 tech startups already use the space. One of the new ideas that has emerged from 1871’s labs is the Gramovox, a gramophone speaker to amplify the music playing on any device with Bluetooth technology.

The expansion at 1871 will allow the technology hub to house larger startups.

Construction should be completed by mid-October.

The state provided $2.3 million in funding from a capital plan to help launch the center in 2012. The latest grant was funded by bond proceeds from the Build Illinois capital program.