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Many people know Chicago has a vibrant restaurant culture and is home to some of America’s biggest food companies, but they may not know about the start-up culturing blossoming in the shadow of the city’s skyscrapers, with success stories like RXBar and SkinnyPop just two of the notable success stories.
The City of Big Shoulders has 4,500 food and beverage companies, from ranging in size from the enormous like Kraft-Heinz, Mondelez, ConAgra, Mars-Wrigley Confectionery, and McDonald’s to some very innovative start-ups and everything in between.
The Chicagoland Food and Business Network (CFBN) launched in April 2017 to bring the industry players together, to provide a forum for collaboration and support, and to bridge the divide between big and small. Other cities in the US are also doing a fine job of nurturing entrepreneurial food and beverage companies, but few, if any, can compare with Chicago, says Alan Reed, CFBN’s executive director.
“Because of the scale and scope of the food industry here, what I’ve heard from entrepreneurs elsewhere, if you want a food and beverage attorney in Austin there are a couple. We have 20 and they’re all experienced with different points of view,” said Reed. “It’s similar for PR firms and design agencies and accountants and consultants. With this great scale and scope comes this great depth of experience and talent.