Development Center Program Manager Veronica Pineau, left, speaks with Chef Laura Martinez, one of the clients of the 36Squared Business Incubator at 3636 S. Iron St., Chicago.

Small Business Incubator Adds Neighborhood Business Development Center

Published March 16, 2021

McKinley Park's small businesses and entrepreneurs can now find even more free support and services at the 36Squared Business Incubator, thanks to its acceptance into the City of Chicago's Neighborhood Business Development Centers (NBDC) program.

 
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The expansion, joined with 36Squared's existing status as an Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC), adds to the incubator's scope of services and personnel, said 36Squared Executive Director Andrew Fogaty. "We are now funded by both the city and the state," he said.

 
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With this support, the incubator has added to its staff with Program Manager Veronica Pineau, a seasoned Chicago entrepreneur with years of successful work as a restaurateur.

"I know how it is to start a business," Pineau said, speaking particularly to her experience with business planning, city licensing and successful execution. Her work as owner-operator of West Town neighborhood restaurant El Metro Cantina (and Gaudi Cafe before that) has given her hands-on knowledge of running a business in Chicago, she said.

"I would like to make sure that everyone who wants to open a business has a better idea of the steps," Pineau said. "Let's make it easier for them."

All Abilities Incubator

"We need people like her to advise us," said Chef Laura Martinez, one of the first clients of the incubator and the inspiration for its focus on supporting disabled entrepreneurs. Martinez, who is blind, first got in touch with 36Squared because no one else would provide the assistance she needed, she said.

 
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These access-related roadblocks were not connected with doing the actual work of her business, Fogaty said. “It was much more difficult, not because Chef is blind, but because of the way the world is set up."

Fogaty highlighted the Boost Grant program out of 36Squared as a way to provide disabled entrepreneurs with the first initial funding that can get the ball rolling and allow other funding sources to layer on top. The CIBC bank, which is one of the major supporters of 36Squared, regularly connects with the incubator's clients through its events and services, along with other lenders the incubator brings in to help fund small businesses.

Small Business Innovation

"What makes us unique is that we’re part of the NBDC innovation program," Fogaty said. This is because 36Squared is an actual business incubator, as well as offers support for entrepreneurs of all abilities. Specialized services reach to businesses citywide, Fogaty said: Any disabled entrepreneur in Chicago is welcome to get in touch and sign up.

 
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According to its page on the City of Chicago website, NBDC program participants "deliver highly specialized business programs/services that help entrepreneurs start, and business owners sustain and grow their small businesses."

 
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"It offers to the people in McKinley Park ,,, a wide range of business assistance services,” Fogaty said, such creating a business plan, finding funding and getting questions answered about zoning and licensing.

Contact for Support

All of the services provided at the 36Squared Business Incubator are free, and businesses are welcome to sign up to be clients of both the State of Illinois-sponsored SBDC and the new Neighborhood Business Development Center. Everything discussed and conducted within is confidential, Fogaty said.

To get more information about 36Squared, visit its website at www.36business.org; to get in touch, call (312) 933-6556 or send email to andrewgfogaty@36business.org. The business incubator is located in the McKinley Park neighborhood at 3636 S. Iron St. in the East District area of the historic Chicago Manufacturing District (CMD).


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