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Led by mHub, Clean Tech Economy Coalition Secures $500K from the Build Back Better Regional Challenge

The 2025 Clean Tech Economy Coalition was selected from 529 national applicants to develop an Illinois regional growth cluster around the commercialization of clean energy technologies and to drive resilient and equitable economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2025 Clean Tech Economic Coalition (CTEC), led by mHUB, a Chicago-based hardtech and manufacturing innovation center, has been recognized by the US Economic Development Administration for its potential to accelerate the transformation of the region’s economy by growing clean energy technologies.

The CTEC is made up of 19 partnering organizations – including the University of Chicago – which are rallied around six major initiatives related to manufacturing and supply chain, workforce development, applied research, entrepreneurship and commercialization, and infrastructure in Illinois.

The CTEC was selected as one of 60 Build Back Better Regional Challenge finalists, from a pool of 529 applicants, to receive a grant of approximately $500,000 to further develop proposed projects for potential Phase 2 funding up to $100 million and is the only finalist from Illinois.

“Illinois is poised to be the center of clean tech for the Midwest. It is the first major coal-producing state in the nation as well as the first Midwest state to commit to a carbon-free future by 2045,” said Haven Allen, mHUB CEO and cofounder. “CTEC will align the state’s clean tech ecosystem to meet the demands of the national clean energy economy by growing new and existing businesses, accelerating job creation and dramatically reducing the environmental impact of major industries in Illinois.”

The 2025 Clean Tech Economy Coalition is the result of a state-wide planning effort and Request for Proposals opened by mHUB and University of Chicago in coordination with the State of Illinois, City of Chicago, Cook County Government, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, World Business Chicago, and P33. It identified clean energy technology as a priority for the region as it can build upon significant assets that have supported the expansion of renewable energy across Illinois and created hundreds of thousands of clean energy jobs.

“In the emerging clean tech industry, innovators face challenges getting the capital and resources they need to commercialize the cutting-edge research that will address our climate goals and create jobs,” said Juan de Pablo, executive vice president for science, innovation, national laboratories, and global initiatives, University of Chicago. “CTEC will concentrate its efforts on focused investments to accelerate commercialization and adoption with impact at the community level.”

Coalition projects and participating member organizations were selected to coalesce the public, private, and civic sectors around aligning resources and a coordinated approach to recovering the clean tech economy.

The approach, which intentionally partners large institutions and community-based organizations, creates an inclusive and equity-centered mechanism for economic growth while strengthening the region’s existing industrial base.

“I’m pleased to see the EDA recognized Illinois’ own mHUB as a viable investment through the Build Back Better Regional Challenge. Illinois is poised to be a leader in clean energy, and with this funding, our state can boost our economic pandemic recovery and drive innovation toward a greener, more sustainable tech economy,” said US Senator Dick Durbin.

The national clean energy economy grew faster than the US economy as a whole between 2011 and 2018, while Chicago’s clean energy economy grew faster than the regional economy during the same period. Members of the CTEC began meeting as early as 2017, supporting entrepreneurs and small-to-medium enterprises in the creation of clean tech products and services. Now, these entities will become further connected under the CTEC to align with the state’s Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act and the more recently passed Illinois Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) that will transition the state to 100% clean energy by 2050.

“Everyone – including those most impacted by climate change and environmental injustice – should have the opportunity to participate and benefit from the growing clean energy economy,” said US Senator Tammy Duckworth. “That’s why I’m proud that Illinois’s own mHUB has been selected from more than 500 applicants to compete in the Build Back Better Regional Challenge that will help strengthen economies and communities in Chicago and throughout Illinois, create good-paying jobs and improve our nation’s competitiveness globally. I wish them best of luck as they move onto the next stage of this important competition.”

Under the CTEC, the regional production of technologies for local applications and trade, the rapid rollout of critical infrastructure, and coordinated workforce development effort will support an end-to-end regional supply chain while transforming existing economies into a strong and sustainable future.

Technology focus areas will be in fuel cell development for power generation, grid modernization for more efficient and reliable power transmission, carbon capture, battery and energy storage for electric vehicles (EVs) and charging infrastructure for EVs.

“From Glasgow to DC, my administration has made clear to the world that Illinois will be a pioneer in the clean energy revolution – not least of all because of leaders on the ground like mHUB and UChicago who are at the forefront of this work,” said Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker. “When I signed into law the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, it was the most significant step Illinois has taken in a generation toward a reliable, renewable, affordable and clean energy future. The Clean Tech Economy Coalition allows key stakeholders across the state to accelerate that transformation in lockstep, creating jobs and a cleaner economy for all.”

Clean tech presents opportunities for inclusion given the higher-than-average salaries, good career paths, and emerging nature of many clean energy clusters. Currently, only 25% of clean energy jobs are held by women, 8% by Black workers, and 17% by Latinx.

CTEC will engage in outreach and workforce training opportunities to recruit women and BIPOC to engage in clean tech jobs, creating pathways to careers concurrent with expanding EV and grid infrastructure projects within disinvested communities.

“Chicago is a premier, global destination and growing hub for innovation and technology,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. The Clean Tech Economy Coalition, with mHUB’s leadership, will further stimulate equitable growth in this sector and provide new jobs, clean technology, a stronger workforce, and Chicago based projects that incorporate inclusivity and collaboration with our underserved communities.”

“There is a lot to do at the policy level and implementation level to ensure that Chicago’s climate action plan includes environmental justice initiatives so our most vulnerable communities benefit from job training, wealth opportunities, and healthy environments,” added Toni Preckwinkle, president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. “The Clean Tech Economy Coalition will provide the funding and execution necessary for impact at the community level and we specifically look forward to supporting the building of sustainable manufacturing practices and driving investments in electric vehicle infrastructure.”

The CTEC application for Phase 1 was supported by West Monroe Partners, Civic Consulting Alliance and RW Ventures and was underwritten by mHUB, Cook County Government and the Pritzker Traubert Foundation. It will submit a further proposal for Phase 2 of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge requesting $99.3M to implement six strategic projects. If awarded, coalition members and local governments are estimated to provide $101.6M of matching funds for a total project cost greater than $200 million.

The Clean Tech Economy Coalition includes mHUB, the University of ChicagoCity of ChicagoWorld Business Chicago, Emerald South Economic Development CollaborativeEvergreen Climate Innovations (formerly Clean Energy Trust), Elevate EnergyGreater Englewood Chamber of CommerceCook County GovernmentCenter for Neighborhood TechnologyIllinois Manufacturing Excellence CenterClimate VaultSouthern Illinois University EdwardsvilleRichard J. Daley CollegeCollege of Lake CountyBright Star Community OutreachSouthern Illinois University CarbondaleArgonne National Laboratory and Northwestern University.

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