Welcome to the new River North, Chicago’s blossoming tech epicenter.
Despite Chicago’s “cloud tax,” a controversial new tax that had both consumers and businesses up in arms, the River North neighborhood has seen a tremendous uptick in tech business growth over the past few years. It remains to be seen how this will affect business growth in years to come, but for now, River North has become a small Silicon Valley in its own right. Here are the businesses you need to know.
Note: Businesses aren’t ranked in any particular order.
A couple years ago, the San Francisco-based review company had just two Chicago employees working out of 1871 (more on 1871 later). Since then, they’ve expanded like crazy, adding 300+ employees and purchasing a 50,000 square-foot office space in the Merchandise Mart. This summer, they announced plans to increase their space even further, so if you’re looking for a job, you may just want to stop by and check it out.
Located on the 12th floor of the Merchandise Mart, 1871 provides resources, office space, and events for local startups. The office space portion is huge in both its actual size and importance to the area. Most members here are digital entrepreneurs, marking the entire 12th floor as a community of small businesses. The space allows designers, coders, and salespeople alike share ideas & network with others on a daily basis, and the effect is noticeable.
3) Motorola Mobility
Ever hear of a cell phone? You know, that little device you make calls on and carry with you literally everywhere you go? Motorola Mobility invented the commercialized cell phone that we use on a daily basis, and though they’re no Apple (really though, who is?) they still play a large part in the market today. Like many of the others on this list, they currently occupy the Merchandise Mart, and though they’ve cut 500 jobs recently, their 1,500 employees are still going strong.
A subsidiary of PayPal, Braintree helps online businesses process transactions by providing a commercial account & payment method. They’re also the proud tenants of a 65,000 space in the Merchandise Mart. This Chicago-based company has tripled their presence since 2012, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down.
Health insurance technology company, GoHealth, has helped more than 30 million people find affordable coverage. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, they’ve seen incredible growth over the past few years, rapidly expanding their corporate offices and expanding their River North space.
6) Trunk Club
Trunk Club is a Chicago-based men’s clothing startup (though rumors of adding a women’s brand are becoming rampant) that ships cardboard boxes of clothing items to choose from. The company currently holds 43,275 square feet at 325 W. Ohio St, though a good portion of this is for its showroom. Additionally, Trunk Club has agreed to sublease the 5th floor of the building right across the street, a 17,000 square-foot space. They also serve drinks in their store, and we kind of love that about them.
Razorfish is a global leader in business transformation services. Though they hold offices in Beijing, Paris, Toronto, New York, and dozens of other cities around the globe, Chicago is right up there as one of their many locations. The company’s River North office plays host to 65,000 feet of space near the Merchandise Mart.
8) Motorola Solutions
Though it hasn’t quite happened yet, Motorola Solutions have announced that they’ll be relocating their global headquarters from suburban Schaumburg to downtown Chicago next year. Though we don’t have all the details of the move in full, it’s a fitting return for a company that began in Chicago 87 years ago. Welcome back, guys.
Out of all the names on this list, Groupon may very well occupy the most space of them all. The company’s plan is to grow to 380,000 square feet with their new lease, up from the 315,000 they previously held. Their space will eventually include a rooftop deck, and it already has beautiful views of both the Chicago River and the city’s skyline. Oh, and they have some pretty phenomenal deals too. Maybe you’ve heard of them?
Thinkorswim is an advanced stock trading platform from TD Ameritrade, the stockbrokers.com number one pick when it comes to online stock trading. Their Chicago location is based at 600 W Chicago St, and they boast around 38,000 square feet of space for 200+ employees.
Photo Credit: Mike Boehmer