Startups to Receive Additional Support through ‘Opportunity Zones’ Programming

The Polsky Exchange is a 34,000-square-foot startup incubator featuring work and meeting spaces with a calendar of programming and workshops designed to help entrepreneurs launch and grow their ventures.

The Polsky Center, on behalf of the Duality quantum startup accelerator and the Polsky Exchange, has been approved for the Chicagoland Opportunity Zones Consortium’s (COZC) technical assistance initiative.

Opportunity Zones (OZ) are geographic areas across the U.S. as nominated by the State and designated by the federal government. The COZC represents 135 ones in Chicago and 48 in suburban Cook County. It facilitates connections through education and technical support to attract investments that create jobs, build wealth, and promote equitable development.

In support of this mission, the Polsky Center has been awarded $40,000 in funding to cover the cost of incorporating a qualified OZ professional services provider to deliver OZ-related technical expertise as part of education initiatives.

“Through this COZC opportunity, the Polsky Center will incentivize businesses with high growth potential to learn about the benefits of OZs and to have the knowledge and the accounting assistance to grow and scale their businesses,” said Duality Director Eze Burts III. “Polsky Center program alumni are encouraged and incentivized to have a footprint, hire local talent, and stay engaged in the Chicago ecosystem.”

The Polsky Center will provide general OZ workshops for Polsky Exchange members and program alumni, providing a range of participants with an overview of OZ. Companies ready to pursue OZ funding further will apply to work directly with OZ professionals.

“Funding from the COZC advances the Polsky Exchange’s goal of stimulating investment in South Side businesses through the guidance of local business owners on the OZ requirements for business owners to access funding,said Abigail Ingram, executive director of the Polsky Exchange.

The Polsky Center also will have the opportunity to identify up to five eligible businesses for potential participation in a pitch event with prospective OZ investors in November 2023.

“Programs like OZ are designed to stimulate investment in high growth potential businesses in underinvested areas, and the COZC’s initiative will bring educational workshops and technical assistance to South Side business owners preparing to raise capital,” added Ingram. “In a funding landscape in which less than 1% of venture capital investment goes to Black founders and just 2% to women founders, the COZC initiative brings knowledge and technical expertise to prepare South Side business owners for growth capital through the OZ program.”

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