Run a business — or planning to? Check out these innovation-focused communities.
Chicagoland has earned its reputation as a startup hub. Tons of tech companies, including Cameo, Livly, and Vistasuite started here. Plus, with some of the best business schools in the country, the Chicago area features a highly-qualified employee pool if you’re looking to grow your business. But you don’t need to be in the city for your business to thrive. In fact, according to Nerdwallet, the Chicago suburbs are actually the most entrepreneur-friendly spots in the state.
What makes these towns so great for small businesses? The strong sense of camaraderie. There’s just something about the Midwest spirit that brings entrepreneurs together to offer support and mentorship to each other. And with coworking spaces, networking events, and an active Chamber of Commerce in each town the resources for entrepreneurs are endless.
The Chicago area is also home to respected incubators like 1871 and platforms like Built in Chicago and Technori that offer professional development classes and crowdfunding resources. Since most of these events are still virtual, you won’t even need to commute into the city for these opportunities.
We know how hard it is to balance everything when you run your own business. So finding a community that gets it is key. We’re highlighting these towns because they welcome and support entrepreneurs.
This North Shore town just 15 miles from Chicago is a hotspot for entrepreneurs. Did you know the successful eco-brand MightyNest was started by a local Evanston mom?
If you move to town, consider joining one of the downtown coworking communities. CoLab, Industrious, and Office805 all offer dedicated workspaces and networking events. Local groups, like the Evanston Women in Business Luncheon and Young Professionals Network also support professional development and are a great way to connect with your new entrepreneurially-minded neighbors.
Northwestern’s School of Professional Studies is a great resource for local continuing education courses. They offer courses and certificates in everything from negotiating to creative writing.
#2. Highland Park
Wander along Central Ave to get a taste of Highland Park’s small business culture. This town really supports local entrepreneurs — especially women entrepreneurs. Consider joining Highland Park’s chapter of Women Belong to connect with and learn from other business owners in town. For a workspace, we recommend Dayhouse Coworking. This women-owned coworking space features the amenities you need for success — private offices, conference rooms, speaker series, and an activity center for the kids.
#3. Oak Brook
This small suburb is home to Ace Hardware and a few other big-name companies. If Oak Brook is on your list, check out TeamUp Coworking, VentureX, and Regus while you’re exploring. With so many coworking options in town, you won’t be stuck in your home office every day (and you can start to build up your local network). The Oak Brook Business Network is another great resource for residents who want to collaborate. This group hosts social events and professional education programs plus they also promote members’ businesses.
Deerfield really supports the entrepreneurial mindset. There are tons of locally owned businesses in town, like Cherry Pit Cafe and Upper Crust Bagels. Walgreens’ corporate headquarters are also based in Deerfield. If you settle in town, consider coworking at the Regus outpost on Lake Cook Road. And keep an eye on the DBR Chamber of Commerce’s calendar for networking events.
#5. Elk Grove Village
Elk Grove Village is home to more than 5,500 businesses making it one of the largest professional hubs around. There’s a huge technology park and business park in town but if you want something more collaborative, consider Co-Optim. Insider tip — book a day pass to try it out while you’re exploring the town.
Think about joining the Chamber of Commerce to take advantage of local marketing and networking opportunities. And if you’re just starting out, contact the Small Business Development Center in nearby Schaumburg for support in growing your company.
#6. Burr Ridge
Burr Ridge is a suburban community 20 miles from Chicago with plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs. If you decide to call Burr Ridge “home”, become a member of the local Chamber of Commerce. The group will help promote your business and you can attend networking events to connect with other local entrepreneurs. For coworking, there’s a Regus branch in the heart of town.
With so many great options, where should you start your suburb search? Don’t worry, you don’t have to figure it out on your own. Contact us today to get started. We’re here to help find the town that’s a perfect fit for you.