Silicon Prairie at work

A commonly referenced bright light amid the troubled economy is our city’s growing entrepreneurial spirit.  Our involvement in the local startup community tells us entrepreneurs, developers, marketers, venture capitalists, and consultants are joining forces to create, collaborate and thrive.  This talented group is actively generating opportunity and reinvigorating our economy; in fact, Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently announced that 21 Chicago-based technology companies have committed to creating more than 2,000 jobs for the city by 2015.

Tools for talent

Growing nearly as fast as our startup community is the infrastructure to foster it:

1871 Located in Merchandise Mart, 1871 is a co-working center for digital startups providing affordable workspaces, mentorship, potential investors, and a
community of like-minded entrepreneurs.

Lightbank A venture capital firm focused on tech startups, Lightbank was founded by Eric Lefkofsky, the co-founder of Groupon.  Lightbank raised over $1.5 billion in capital and created over $10 billion in equity value.

Startup Weekend This 54-hour event is dedicated to bringing together entrepreneurs, developers, and marketers to share ideas, form teams, build products and launch startups over the course of a weekend. MB Real Estate is proud to be a Gold Sponsor of Startup Weekend.

Dev Bootcamp This tech training program offers a nine-week intensive training program in web development and is coming to Chicago this spring (read more).  Originating in San Francisco, Dev Bootcamp boasts a 95 percent placement rate with average starting salaries of $85,000.

World Business Chicago Assuring that Chicago is the ultimate global business destination; World Business Chicago is a not-for-profit that helps companies navigate the relocation and expansion process.

Tech Infrastructure Chicago has the third largest fiber optic capacity of any metro area in the country and is home to three of the world’s largest data centers (read more).  Combined with the city’s free public wireless internet initiatives, Chicago has become one of the most digital cities in the world.

Talent Attraction With several of the nation’s top-ranked universities located in Chicago as well as additional initiatives to draw tech-talent to Chicago, such as the ChicagoNEXT Council and Mayor Emanuel’s recruiting mission at the University of Illinois, Chicago is becoming more and more enticing to talented recent grads.

Startup hotspots

So, where is all the magic happening? Here is our list of the top five startup office spaces according to the criteria below (ranked 1-5, 5 being the highest):




Community – Are there other creative tenants in the building that can form a support network?
Growth – Does the building have enough vacancy or flexible options to allow for growth?
Landlord – Is the landlord too risk averse for a startup? Will they be friendly to the unique needs of a startup?
Affordability – Can a newly established company afford the space?

For more information about Chicago as an emerging tech hub, click here. For real estate tips for startups, click here. For questions/comments or more information about office spaces for startups, please contact Craig McCaw at or 312.558.3830.

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