Loyola and four other Chicago-area schools are partnering with the city of Chicago to help foreign-born entrepreneurs grow businesses by hosting their companies or sponsoring their visas.
Loyola, Columbia College Chicago, DePaul University, Northwestern University and the Illinois Institute of Technology all plan to create Global Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) programs that encourage entrepreneurship, according to ThinkChicago.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been the driving force behind the EIR program — his latest effort to make Chicago a leader in technology. He founded ThinkChicago, a program that promotes startups by inviting college students twice a year to meet with technological leaders and companies.
Loyola will offer space at a local digital startup to at least one established entrepreneur who’s in the United States through a H-1B visa, according to Vice President for Government Affairs Philip Hale. The visa allows employers to sponsor highly skilled employees in areas such as science and engineering, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The startup, 1871, is a community organization in Chicago that partners with Loyola and other schools such as DePaul and Northwestern to foster innovation and technology.
Each participating Chicago-area school plans to have different application requirements for the university-funded programs, Chicago Inno, a newsletter about Chicago technology, reported. The timeline has not yet been decided, Hale said.
The universities plan to hire the entrepreneurs in varying levels of involvement, ranging from part-time jobs at the school to more in-depth roles at the innovation hubs — 1871, in Loyola’s case.
Loyola is looking to “start small” and partner with at least one entrepreneur who already has a visa and a well-established company, Hale said. The chosen founder won’t be employed or funded by the university, but will be given space at 1871 for his or her company.
Hale said Loyola is planning to then bring in students to intern and learn at the business stationed at 1871.
Loyola will also look to promote the EIR program to other global Jesuit schools so that they can send founders to participate in the Chicago-area programs, according to Hale.
Hale said the EIR program fits well with Loyola’s goals to be part of the larger Chicago community.
“It’s very consistent with Loyola’s mission. It’s very consistent with our strategic plan, Plan 2020, partnering with the city of Chicago, and we agree with the city that this kind of global entrepreneurship does stimulate the local economy as well as supporting the Chicago immigrant population,” Hale said.
The Chicago schools would be some of the first universities to establish EIR programs. The first location to launch the program was Massachusetts, where the University of Massachusetts Boston and Lowell campuses started the program in 2014, according to the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.
EIR programs have since began or will soon launch in cities including Anchorage, Alaska; St. Louis, Missouri; Boulder, Colorado and San Jose, California, according to the Global EIR Coalition, the nonprofit organization behind the launching of the EIR programs.
Solomon Collins, an international studies and economics double major, said he supports the program and sees it as a sign of solidarity to immigrants.
“I would like to actually see more of that in the future because [when] you bring in more people … that spurs innovation, you get new ideas, new designs,” the 21-year-old junior said. “That’s good for cross-cultural communication [because] you get people from different backgrounds talking, making connections … networking with one another. I mean, I just love it.”
Junior Madison Linnen, 20, said that she thinks Chicago is a fitting place for the EIR program to be launched.
“I think there’s a lot of technology [here]. At 1871 they have like 400 technology startup companies,” the ad/PR major said. “So I think Chicago’s a pretty great place for these opportunities, so I’m glad that Loyola’s taking advantage of that situation no matter who it is.”