Polsky Exchange to Host Open House to Mark Full Reopening to the Community

The Polsky Exchange (Photo by Jean Lachat)

The Polsky Exchange, a University of Chicago initiative that offers business education and resources to South and West Side entrepreneurs, has fully reopened to the community after a long pandemic hiatus.

Run by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the central hub for entrepreneurial programming and technology commercialization at UChicago, the Exchange supports economic development in the community by offering workspace and programming to local business owners and entrepreneurs seeking to grow their ventures.

Launched in 2015, the Exchange closed to the public at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 and has since offered limited accessibility. On Sept. 8, the Exchange will host an Open House to mark its full reopening to the community and welcome new members.

Where: Polsky Exchange North, 1452 E. 53rd St., Chicago.

When: Sept. 8, 4:30-6 p.m.

“We have been listening to our constituents to learn how we can best support them as they build businesses that are the lifeblood of their communities,” said Abigail Ingram, executive director of the Polsky Exchange. “We are excited to introduce several changes to our model and invite local business owners and entrepreneurs to explore this important resource on the South Side.”

Members working in the Fab Lab.

The Exchange consists of 34,000 square feet across two buildings on Hyde Park’s 53rd Street commercial corridor, and is home to the only entrepreneurship-focused Fabrication Lab on the South Side accessible to community members. Membership is open to local business owners as well as UChicago students, faculty, and staff actively working on entrepreneurial ventures or involved in Polsky Center programs.

Members have access to workspace, meeting rooms, the Fab Lab maker space, guidance on prototyping, business-building workshops, and a long list of mentors. In addition, members can get assistance applying to the Polsky Center’s free, intensive, cohort-based programs such as the Small Business Growth Program and Small Business Financial Fundamentals. Those programs target South and West Side businesses; 95% of program participants have been minority-owned and 75% women-owned businesses.

In lieu of charging a membership fee, the Polsky Center has instituted a data collection process to measure its performance and inform future programming. Members can maintain active membership through quarterly reporting on their business needs and goals as well as their company’s financial milestones.

Learn more at polsky.uchicago.edu/polsky-exchange/ and become a member at bit.ly/exchangemembership.

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