Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

The Value of Investing In Your Community

September 14, 2022 @ 11:00 am - 1:00 pm CDT


Investing in your community is essential. When a business becomes a part of the community, everyone wins through economic development, job creation, and engagement. At this event, you’ll hear how business leaders are investing in their local neighborhoods and cities, seeing business results, and making a better and more inclusive Chicago.

Join the members of The Hatchery Chicago and Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network at The Hatchery’s state of the art facility in the East Garfield Park, to engage in the conversation and enjoy lunch featuring delicious samples from local community businesses and entrepreneurs.

11 – 11:10 am Welcome and Opening Comments
11:15 am – 11:55 am “How Companies Make a Difference”
12 pm – 12:40 pm “How Nonprofits Help Link Industry and Communities”
12:45 pm – 1:25 pm “Entrepreneurs: The Heart of the Community”
1:25 pm – 2 pm Networking

Angela Taylor, Wellness Coordinator, Garfield Park Community Council: Angela manages the 32-member Garfield Park Garden Network and the Garfield Park Neighborhood Market and leads other wellness related projects. Each summer, Angela works with up to ten local youth through the Youth Garden Corps, a paid internship working in Garfield Park Gardens.

PANEL: “How Companies Make a Difference”
Jeffrey Allen, Director in the Economic Equity Advisory Group (EEAG), BMO Harris Bank: Tasked with lending to minority owned businesses, Jeff advises middle market firms on lending strategies, treasury opportunities, and enhancing overall performance by facilitating specific client needs throughout the Bank.

Andy Dratt, EVP and Chief Commercial Officer, Imbibe: Andy has over 20 years of experience in the flavor and ingredient industry, working with and developing products for some of the largest companies in the food industry. I joined Imbibe eight years ago and have led the company to become one of the leading beverage development resources for CPG, QSR and private label brand owners.

Karleen Kordas, Senior Sustainability Analyst, Synergy Flavors: Utilizing a background in supply chain and product management, Karleen collaborates with global colleagues to expand the local sustainability efforts for sites in the United States and Brazil. She effectively leads strategic initiatives aimed at driving community engagement and charitable giving, improving environmental footprint, and sourcing responsibly. In addition, she directs a U.S. based Green Team that facilitates volunteer programs, executes value added projects, and promotes sustainable change within the organization.

PANEL: “How Nonprofits Help Link Industry and Communities”
Alan Reed, Executive Director, Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network and Bigger Table: Alan is the Executive Director of the Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network, a startup, nonprofit organization that brings industry players together, provides a forum for collaboration and support, and better connects the 4,500 companies in the industry across Chicagoland to drive innovation and growth in the region. The group leverages the power of the food & beverage industry in Chicagoland to grow the industry, and the local economy.

Natalie Shmulik, CEO, The Hatchery Chicago: Natalie is one of the industry’s leading resources for everything food business related. She has a wide range of experience working with supermarkets, culinary publications, consumer packaged goods companies, and food service establishments. Natalie has gained a unique perspective on the industry and what it takes to launch and grow a successful business. She is best known for her unparalleled perspectives on branding, marketing, and trend forecasting.

Nedra Sims Fears, Executive Director, Greater Chatham Initiative (GCI): Nedra is an economic development expert who specializes in strategic planning, financial modeling, community development financing, and program management. During the last recession Nedra was a business development internal consultant with First Children’s Finance. She improved the operations of 45 early care and education centers managed by universities, public school systems, and private owners. Nedra has participated in many housing and economic development workshops and has been quoted in a variety of publications.

PANEL: “Entrepreneurs: The Heart of the Community”
Niquenya Collins, Owner and Executive Chef, Cocoa Chili Foods: Niquenya opened Cocoa Chili to marry her two biggest passions – cooking delicious ethnic foods and helping others to live a life they love. Cocoa Chili is driven by a social mission to expose our community to unique, sustainably sourced, educational foodie experiences that increase awareness and access to resources and opportunities that improve the lives of those whom we serve.

Taj Savage, CEO, CTRL Kitchen: CTRL Kitchen company is one of the newest catering companies in the Chicagoland catering world. Husband and wife team Chef Jamy and Chef Taj have over 20 years of experience. Driven by passion and helping others their goal is to leave all guests with an unforgettable dining in food experience.



September 14, 2022
11:00 am - 1:00 pm CDT
Event Categories:


The Hatchery Chicago
Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network


The Hatchery
135 N Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL 60612 United States
+ Google Map
View Venue Website

Do you have a business-building event that should be added?

Submit your Event

*We reserve the right to publish events on an individual basis. All events must be business related, non-sales with a focus on educating and benefiting the business community.