The mission of the Adelante Center for Entrepreneurship is to create wealth in distressed communities -- especially eastern Waukegan, North Chicago, and Zion -- through entrepreneurship, community development, and living wage job creation, all through a focus on addressing food insecurity.
COVID Development Pivot
In 2019, New Venture Advisors (NVA) began working with Adelante on a market assessment for a set of projects including a food hall, a kitchen incubator, and an urban farm with a market and café. Predevelopment work for this ambitious set of projects began by conducting a preliminary assessment of the food system to identify and clarify the set of enterprises that are most needed and likely to meet project goals.
Through an extensive interview process, and both a demographic and consumer spending analysis, NVA assessed this cluster of food enterprises. However, as the research was concluding, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic changed the economic and food system landscape abruptly and drastically, causing Adelante to shift its development focus toward programs to address food insecurity and delivery systems.
A New Model
This report outlines an operating model for a network of food businesses and programs that address improved food quality and access in eastern Waukegan, North Chicago, Zion and the surrounding area, ranging from supply-side enterprises that aggregate and distribute fresh, healthy food right into these communities, to demand-side programs that connect the community with healthy, affordable food.
From an aquaponics farm to farm-to-school programming and a Comedor meal program serving the housing insecure, a network of enterprises will also aim to provide mentoring and job opportunities and continue to create economic prosperity in the region.
This network of programs and enterprises will be developed and operated through a Collective Impact network model.
THE NEED DRIVING THE MISSION AND MODEL
Adelante is committed to investment through food businesses as a catalyst to spur community development and revitalization in eastern Waukegan, North Chicago, Zion and the surrounding communities. The goal is to use food enterprise development to promote food security throughout the region and create community wealth through job creation.
Metrics and feedback (from interviews) compiled in Phase 1 of NVA’s engagement provided support for the central role that Adelante can play in the development of food enterprises and programs that meet the community’s needs.
- The first is the limited incomes of the local residential community. Median household income in the downtown area is about $26,000. This is 50% that of the entire trading area, 43% of the U.S. average, and at the poverty line for a family of four. Increased food insecurity will likely be felt acutely in households already facing financial challenges.
- The second is the need for leadership and resources to catalyze greater collaboration and impact among the programs that already exist in the trade area, especially hunger, urban ag and workforce development programs. Adelante can play an important role as a central aggregator of information and resources to identify and fill in gaps,
coordinate the flow of resources to areas of need, and make each of the almost two dozen activated organizations more effective in responding to community needs
- Third is the need for significant levels of well-planned financial support for the development and operational build of food businesses and programs so that residents can utilize and benefit from them.