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THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Economic boosters poised to open Southland’s first high-tech business networking hub 4343

Chicago Tribune Southland Tech Hub
THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Economic boosters poised to open Southland’s first high-tech business networking hub 4343
Reggie Greenwood of the Supply Chain Innovation Center and Business Incubator at Governors State University shows off the logo for 4343 Ascending House in Matteson, a hub where small-business owners and other professionals may rent space, network and access technology.
Reggie Greenwood of the Supply Chain Innovation Center and Business Incubator at Governors State University shows off the logo for 4343 Ascending House in Matteson, a hub where small-business owners and other professionals may rent space, network and access technology. (Ted Slowik / Daily Southtown)

Small-business owners and other professionals in the south and southwest suburbs will soon have the chance to access shared office space, technology and networking opportunities.

The innovative hub at 4343 Ascending House will be the first of its kind in the area and give entrepreneurs access to new tools to grow their businesses, said Reggie Greenwood of the Supply Chain Innovation Center and Business Incubator at Governors State University.

“We don’t have anything like this,” Greenwood said during a tour of the 6,000-square-foot office space being renovated at 4343 Lincoln Highway in Matteson. “We want this to be a networking center for the region.”

For as little as $1,000 a year for a “hot desk,” members will be able to drop by and tap into Wi-Fi from an open, shared space. They will be able to print documents or host a Zoom video meeting from a conference room.

They could record a podcast or stream a Facebook Live video from a studio with professional lighting, audio and video equipment. Manufacturing companies will have access to a $25,000 3D printer that may be used to produce spare parts for equipment, Greenwood said,[Most read] Going to the Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin game at Soldier Field? Here’s what to know, including the schedule for ESPN’s ‘College GameDay’ and the new bag policy. »

For $2,000 per year, members can reserve a semiprivate cubicle. For a $3,000 annual fee, patrons can secure a private office. The rates are introductory and subject to change, Greenwood said.

Amazon, Comcast, Nicor, Mi-Jack, other sponsors and grants have covered costs of renovating the space.

“We’ve raised $500,000,” Greenwood said.

The facility’s numeric name was inspired by 1871, the nonprofit Chicago technology and entrepreneurship center that opened in 2012 on the 12th floor of the Merchandise Mart.

One could feel exasperated that it took nine years to bring a comparable facility to the often neglected south suburbs, or one could rejoice that such a valuable enterprise is finally here. The target opening date is Jan. 2, Greenwood said.

Reggie Greenwood of the Supply Chain Innovation Center and Business Incubator at Governors State University gives a tour of 4343 Ascending House in Matteson, where small-business owners and other professionals may rent space, network and access technology.
Reggie Greenwood of the Supply Chain Innovation Center and Business Incubator at Governors State University gives a tour of 4343 Ascending House in Matteson, where small-business owners and other professionals may rent space, network and access technology. (Ted Slowik / Daily Southtown)

Several various programs and entities that support small businesses will share the space and create opportunities for innovation and collaboration, Greenwood said.

“Having programs connected to a space makes them more real, I’ve found,” he said.

Greenwood also is executive director of the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation, an agency affiliated with the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association.

The space at 4343 Ascending House will be used to host networking events, from morning seminars over coffee to afternoon classes on entrepreneurship to evening gatherings with wine and hors d’oeuvres, Greenwood said.

Shared spaces include a kitchen that can accommodate catered events. It is unclear what policies will determine the fate of food left in the office refrigerator or penalties for leaving the office microwave a mess.[Most read] Ask Amy: Generous father plans a blues cruise »

All kidding aside, 4343, as Greenwood calls the center, sounds like it will create exciting opportunities for entrepreneurs to share ideas and grow their businesses.

There also is an, “If you build it, they will come,” element to 4343, to borrow a line from the film “Field of Dreams.” There seems little doubt that there is sufficient demand to fill the six 30-square-foot cubicles and 10 office spaces that range from 100 to 190 square feet.

The Supply Chain Innovation Center and Business Incubator is conducting a pilot course on e-commerce strategies and training. Nineteen entrepreneurs from the south suburbs are enrolled, Greenwood said.

“They are all small companies and they are all doing such a great job in the class,” Greenwood said. “One of our ideas is to be inclusive, and I think all of them are minority women.”

The center’s emphasis is e-commerce, which involves logistics, online sales and other services.[Most read] ‘Foundation’ review: Apple TV+ takes a big swing adapting Isaac Asimov’s sci-fi book series »

“E-commerce is a methodology of creating new connections for your customers,” Greenwood said.

Reggie Greenwood stands outside a brick office building at 4343 Lincoln Highway in Matteson, where 4343 Ascending House will offer space for small-business owners and other professionals.
Reggie Greenwood stands outside a brick office building at 4343 Lincoln Highway in Matteson, where 4343 Ascending House will offer space for small-business owners and other professionals. (Ted Slowik / Daily Southtown)

Those opportunities might include a storefront retailer accessing new markets through internet sales or a restaurant attracting new customers by offering pickup or delivery services through an app.

The services at 4343 will help entrepreneurs implement and execute their ideas to expand their enterprises.

“As you use digital marketing more effectively, it requires a change in the entire supply chain,” Greenwood said. “E-commerce is a strategy for your company that involves the evolution of the supply chain.”

It helps that corporate sponsors include the behemoth online retailer Amazon, which is on the verge of opening huge new fulfillment centers in Matteson and Markham in addition to its facilities operating in University Park, Monee and elsewhere.[Most read] ‘This is such a grand facility.’ As historic Arlington Park crosses the finish line, horse racing workers wonder how they’ll fill the void »

Amazon’s newer facilities rely heavily on robotics to aid in packaging, sorting and distribution. The workforce of the future will include many employment opportunities for technicians to program and service robotics equipment.

That’s why 4343 also will be the new home of the Southworks Engineering and Robotics Competition. The Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation created the annual event to give teams of high school students the chance to show off their chops in applying concepts learned through courses in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.

Greenwood said he hopes to continue expanding services offered through 4343 once it opens early next year. He said he’d like to get a company to sponsor an electric vehicle charging station in the parking lot.

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In addition to the confirmed availability of a high-tech 3D printer, Greenwood said he would like to offer members opportunities to use blockchain technology to mine for Bitcoin.

“Blockchain’s application involves more than cryptocurrency. It’s part of the supply chain,” Greenwood said. “If you’re buying something, it’s provenance is important. Let’s say you’re buying organic coffee. You want to make sure your organic coffee came from an organic farm.”[Most read] Chicago aldermen question mayor’s plan to raise property taxes, rely on federal COVID-19 aid in new budget »

I did my best to grasp the many potential opportunities involved with 4343, but some of the technological concepts seemed over my head. I told Greenwood the introductory offers of $1,000, $2,000 or $3,000 a year for memberships sounded affordable.

The bargain prices are just one more reason now is good time to consider investing in the Southland, where costs are low and the potential for growth is high.

Ted Slowik is a columnist with the Daily Southtown.

tslowik@tribpub.com

THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Economic boosters poised to open Southland’s first high-tech business networking hub 4343

https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/daily-southtown/opinion/ct-sta-slowik-southland-economic-incubator-st-0926-20210924-6fbpzf6wtzcxbod35uqsplliv4-story.html

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4343 Ascending House Is Changing Southland Chicago

he way that manufacturing companies communicate and serve customers has changed forever. For example, during the COVID pandemic, the business development process of attending trade shows stopped. To continue cultivating business, manufacturing companies had to abruptly develop the capacity to communicate with companies for new companies and serve existing clients through the latest digital techniques. Retail Businesses also have to develop Omnichannel distribution to be part of the E-commerce revolution.

Due to the working relationships that the Supply Chain Innovation Center and Business Incubator (SCICBI) of Governors State University has with manufacturing companies, we have firsthand experience hearing about manufacturing companies’ exasperating experience with virtual trade shows and serving customers. The 4343 Ascending House E-Commerce aims to work with small and medium-sized manufacturing companies and Retail businesses to embrace E-Commerce.

To thrive in this new digital world, the need for manufacturing and logistics innovations has surged to historically high levels. 4343 Ascending House with SCICBI and Ecommerce MGMT has created comprehensive research, consulting, and training programs to collaborate with regional companies to develop the capability not just to survive but to thrive in this new era.https://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fembed%2FqCXaYp_MoVU%3Fstart%3D1%26feature%3Doembed%26start%3D1&display_name=YouTube&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DqCXaYp_MoVU&image=https%3A%2F%2Fi.ytimg.com%2Fvi%2FqCXaYp_MoVU%2Fhqdefault.jpg&key=a19fcc184b9711e1b4764040d3dc5c07&type=text%2Fhtml&schema=youtube

4343 Ascending House is also a 6000 square foot shared office space offering a share office space with unique services to support Ecommerce companies. Also, SCICBI is a physical center of a supportive network for connecting GSU professors and students with Southland companies. Companies can embrace remote working with access to a safe local office for meetings and access to digital technologies. Smaller firms or organizations will also need a local office to connect to a regional network for support centered on a physical and social network. 4343 Ascending will create a convivial social place for creative people from these companies to mingle and share ideas over a cup of coffee and a ping pong table.

Podcast Studio: An essential requirement for manufacturing companies to succeed in connecting to B2B and B2C markets is creating compelling and educational audio content. This requires expertise in storytelling, audio editing, audio Livestream, content creation, and podcast platform navigation. The incubator’s podcast studio is replete with state-of-the-art microphones and computers with editing software offered to clients. The SCICBI will organize classes from the GSU professors for hands-on training in these areas and offer consultancy and courses which will complement the full online training program developed by B2Btail.

Video Livestream on Facebook/YouTube and Webinars: The Incubators will have the capacity to host and produce live video streams and video editing. Like the content posted on digital communications, these live streaming programs create a way to interact more directly with customers. The E-Commerce program will help clients produce video-based content and again develop methods to analyze data to help manufacturing companies adjust their content to achieve optimal communication results with customers. The video conference center is equipped with state-of-the-art cameras and computers with editing software and the potential consultation and classes from the GSU faculty.

Digital Communications: Once video-based stories are created, the E-Commerce for Manufactures program will provide online training programs designed by B2Btail complemented by direct consultancy on organizing and presenting this information on marketing channels. The program will help companies create different postings in these media and carefully monitor analytics from the postings to evaluate which type of storytelling o posting can acquire the best result.

Additive Manufacturing: 3D printing is moving out of the prototyping world into production. Digital production is being connected to digital marketing/communications with customers, particularly around service requirements and personalized items. SCICBI E-Commerce for Manufacturing Companies will help companies explore how to use additive manufacturing to create some parts needed for service replacing inventories and create directly for sale other small “craft’ parts.

Sustainable and Diverse Supply Chains: By directly connecting to customers creating more transparent relationships, E-Commerce clearly demands that companies have more sustainable and diverse supply chains. E-Commerce is part of an overall trend of much more complete supply chains, and thus, being able to prove sustainable and various operations have become critical. The E-Commerce program will offer a class in Sustainable and Diverse Supply Chains and consultancy to create such chains.

Showroom for new Energy Technologies: We seek to showcase new renewable energy technologies in the buildings, such as solar, renewable natural gas, and electric EV charging systems.

Research: In each of these areas, it is clear that this is a required developing field where it will be critical for companies to move back into a hybrid world that maintains Omni channel marketing. The 4343 Ascending House E-Commerce for manufacturing program will use these collaborations in each of these areas to develop new techniques and capabilities that implement marketing as new digital channels continue to evolve. It includes a series of innovative online workshops to help small startups to start their own e-commerce business. We will provide training, but we aim to work together to experience, test, and develop new techniques. For example, how do companies best replace the decline of the trade shows, what type of video works bests, how would companies create podcasts that connect to customers, etc?

Build a strong foundation in ecommerce sales & marketing with an introduction to core principles and develop needed practical skills. At GSU it is imperative we educate our members in the wild world of ecommerce.

You are taking so much more than a course. You are joining likeminded individuals on a similar journey.

Thanks to the 4343!

This 4 Week Course covers.

  • Ecommerce Overview & Strategy
  • How to start selling online
  • Picking Platforms & Online Marketplaces
  • Choosing Products & Product Positioning

The course is designed to build a strong foundation in the basics of ecommerce. It is a perfect introduction to consumer behavior and understanding what drives sales online.

This GSU Ecommerce Course will teach you how to optimize your ecommerce strategies and tactics in the context of multi channel online sales, social media, search engine management, search engine optimization, ecommerce and paid digital display advertising. This course has been developed by leading digital marketing experts from within the US and features up-to-the-minute content covering all aspects of the ecommerce spectrum.

Businesses future is facing serious challenges. The world is changing quickly around us, ecommerce is no longer an option but in fact it has become an expectation. You are one step closer. We believe that too. So what are you waiting for? Start the journey in becoming an even bigger force to be reconnected with.

Our Dedicated Partners — Supporting The Southland of Chicago

When joining the 4343 Ascending House you have the support from all of these great organizations. The 4343 is dedicated to your success!

Governors State University-Chicago Southland

Illinois Department of Commerce

Chicago Southland Chamber of Commerce Illinois Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)

Regional Development Company

Illinois Innovation Network

Northern Illinois Community Development Program

NICI

Nicor Gas

Amazon

Ecommerce MGMT

Ecommerce EDU