The Polsky Exchange fully reopened at an early September open house that convened local business owners, entrepreneurs from the surrounding neighborhoods, UChicago faculty and students.
The open house marked the full-scale in-real-life return for the Polsky Exchange, which has been mostly closed to the public since the start of the pandemic. The University and the small business community welcomes the access to the meeting spaces, in-person consultations, workshops, and the product fabrication space.
The facilities are centrally located, with 34,000 square feet between two locations on opposite sides of the 53rd Street commercial corridor in Downtown Hyde Park (SSA61). The Exchange is run by the University’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation with the aim of sharing the center’s resources with South and West Side entrepreneurs.
In March of 2022, Abigail Ingram was hired as executive director of Polsky Exchange. The Exchange is now open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. “We will be here with our resources,” said Ingram.
Along with the re-opening, Ingram announced a new membership model — to fervent applause. In the past, community members were asked to pay modest membership fees to take advantage of the Exchange’s offerings, which include everything from computer equipment and 3D printers to desk space to consultations with UChicago business students and structured programs targeting specific aspects of developing businesses.
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. Local business owners acquire and maintain active membership by reporting such data each quarter. Members can apply to the Polsky Center’s free, intensive, cohort-based programs such as the Small Business Growth Program and Small Business Financial Fundamentals. These programs target South and West Side businesses; 95% of program participants have been minority-owned and 75% women-owned businesses.
For more info about Polsky Exchange, visit polsky.uchicago.edu