Manufacturing innovation center launched in Chicago

mHUB's manufacturing center in Chicago is part of a larger effort to increase prototyping and testing facilities to encourage innovation.

By mHUB May 2, 2023
Courtesy: mHUB

Workforce development insights

  • A manufacturing facility in Chicago’s Kinzie Industrial Corridor has been acquired and renovated by mHUB for $50m.
  • The 2-acre site will increase mHUB’s prototyping and testing facilities and office and convening spaces to become the largest independent manufacturing innovation center in the US.
  • The impacts of this facility include supporting over 450 new startups and existing manufacturers in creating 4,500+ direct jobs, generating over $2.1 billion in revenue, securing over 550 patents and attracting $1.95 billion in investment.

Manufacturing and hardtech innovation center, mHUB, announces the $50 million acquisition and build-out of a historic manufacturing facility within Chicago’s Kinzie Industrial Corridor on the city’s Near West Side. The building is located within a designated opportunity zone and planned manufacturing district on a 2-acre site that will increase mHUB’s prototyping and testing facilities and office and convening spaces to become the largest independent manufacturing innovation center in the country.

Launched in 2017, mHUB has supported over 500+ startups and 200 manufacturers from all over the world that have created 5,000+ jobs and generated over $2.6 billion of economic activity. Collaboration between startups, industry and investors has accelerated the commercialization of early-stage physical products in areas such as advanced and sustainable manufacturing, climate and energy tech, medical devices and more. The organization has strong ties to the Midwest regions’ universities and research institutions as well as an established network of contract manufacturers.

Courtesy: mHUB

Figure 1- The co-working space. Courtesy: mHUB

The mHUB expansion will help accelerate the commercialization of new tech solutions to address global challenges, institute an economic development engine in Illinois and position the state for federal funding through efforts such as the CHIPS Act, Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. It will initiate one of the primary investments of the nationally recognized Clean Tech Economy Coalition (CTEC) alliance that is focused on commercializing energy infrastructure, grid modernization and long-energy storage technologies.

“This historic investment will help drive Illinois and the nation’s global leadership in hardtech and particularly around the commercialization of clean and sustainable technologies,” said Haven Allen, chief executive officer and co-founder of mHUB in a press release. “It will create an anchor institution in Chicago to execute on its commitments leading the nation’s reemergence and manufacturing legacy. It’s made possible through broad collaboration of the private sector, strong leadership at the city and state and ongoing engagement with the federal government.”

Courtesy: mHUB

Figure 2- The exterior. Courtesy: mHUB

In addition to establishing Illinois as a global leader in the clean energy transition, supporters recognize the mHUB expansion as an opportunity to improve access and create generational wealth for underrepresented founders and low-income communities through the building’s location within a designated opportunity zone.

The decision to place mHUB within an opportunity zone will ensure greater access to its programming for underrepresented founders on Chicago’s south and west sides. The location will enable mHUB to expand its venture capital strategy through a series of venture funds, direct investing and opportunity zone real estate and equity investing. mHUB’s 250+ existing startups relocating to the new building can immediately begin capitalizing on opportunity zone venture capital.

“With this historic investment, mHUB is graduating from an economic development initiative to an essential economic development institution that will create positive impacts in our city for years to come,” stated Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “mHUB has demonstrated its long-term commitment to Chicago’s future and to delivering equitable outcomes. We look forward to seeing this new center become a beacon to bridge all communities around industry growth and opportunity.”

Courtesy: mHUB

Figure 3- The interior of the new space. Courtesy: mHUB

In addition to greater accessibility to Chicago’s south and west sides physically, the mHUB relocation will support the acceleration of an $8 million fundraising campaign for its Catalyze Initiative, a suite of programs to drive a diverse and equitable economic development model. To date, Catalyze has received $2.45 million in support from Landis Family Foundation, Chicago Community Trust, We Rise Together, Bank of America, Christopher Family Foundation and federal congressionally directed spending appropriation.

“mHUB has quickly ascended as a national model for inclusively building industries of the future,” said Michael Fassnacht, president and CEO of World Business Chicago and Chief Marketing Officer for the City of Chicago. “It’s leadership within manufacturing provides Chicago with a unique competitive advantage and prominent national role in building our regional economy while creating opportunities for wealth and jobs for all.”

The mHUB expansion has garnered interest from the private sector with alignment to organizations that recognize this project as a vehicle for collaborating with stakeholders across the clean energy, manufacturing, community development and innovation landscapes.

Courtesy: mHUB

Figure 4- The space’s exterior. Courtesy: mHUB

“At Invenergy, we’ve seen and proven the value of building long-lasting partnerships to help reclaim America’s position as a technology and manufacturing leader, in the energy sector and beyond,” said Michael Polsky, founder and CEO of Invenergy. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with mHUB to advance early-stage technologies and congratulate them on this important expansion which will create jobs, help build a more sustainable world and drive US competitiveness for years to come.”

The expected impact over the next five years for mHUB includes supporting over 450 new startups and existing manufacturers in creating 4,500+ direct jobs, generating over $2.1 billion in revenue, securing over 550 patents and attracting $1.95 billion in investment.

Supporting the acquisition and redevelopment of the property is JLL, Gensler, Executive Construction Inc, Syska Hennessy Group, Cabrera Investments, Eversheds Sutherland, Baker Tilly, Applegate Thorne-Thomsen, IFF, Commercial Club of Chicago, Alderman Walter Burnett and World Business Chicago. The building plan and capital investments were informed through a series of focus groups with over 20 hardtech startups, manufacturers and key industry partners such as Argonne National Lab, Evergreen Climate Innovations, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Illinois, National Society of Black Engineers, University of Chicago and Northwestern University.

– Edited from a mHUB press release by CFE Media.

Author Bio: mHUB is a leading independent hardtech and manufacturing innovation center that exists to convene the entrepreneurial ecosystem around physical product innovation to ensure that the manufacturing industry continues to accelerate, grow and thrive.