The Chicago Innovation Exchange (CIE) on 53rd Street celebrated its newly formed partnership with Greenline Coffee last week. The Woodlawn coffee shop, established in 2014, recently opened a second branch inside the CIE that will employ high school and college students from the Woodlawn area.
The CIE has planned to establish a coffee shop since its opening in late 2014 in order to foster community engagement and to enhance its facilities. Tom Ancona, CIE director of operations, said, “We looked at comparable spaces and noticed a marked difference between those that had a live coffee shop versus those that didn’t.”
The University’s Office of Civic Engagement subsidizes the coffee shop, while CIE provides the space on the second floor of the building. In return, Greenline will provide workforce training for employees for full-time jobs.
“This was a chance to expose them to the Hyde Park area and to the CIE, and to bring in entrepreneurs from Woodlawn because a lot of them live so close but have never been,” Ancona said. The CIE will extend membership privileges to new Greenline employees, including access to business development workshops and mentor office hours for those working on start-ups, as part of the CIE’s mission to promote entrepreneurship on the mid-South Side.
Greenline Coffee owner Joel Hamernick agreed that “it’s an interesting way to think of workforce development because you’re creating jobs and helping people to cross boundaries from one neighborhood to the other.” He added that while they are not yet ready to do so, the coffee shop may ultimately expand beyond Woodlawn and Hyde Park.
Although the café launched just after Thanksgiving, the CIE held a formal opening last week. Seventy-five guests attended the opening, including City Treasurer and Hyde Park native Kurt Summers. The event also featured Greenline’s new chef, Seth Meyers, who will revamp the Woodlawn branch’s catering menu.
Ancona and the CIE are excited to partner with a Woodlawn institution. “It’s been wonderful, it definitely adds a vibrancy to the CIE space,” he said.