Southland Food Processing Innovation Center

Proposed Facility Concept Paper

Prepared by:
John Geocaris, New Food Strategies, Southland Development Authority (SDA) and RW Ventures, LLC

October 27, 2020

Contact information:

Matt Schuneman, RW Ventures, LLC (

John Geocaris, New Food Strategies (

A NOTE ON THIS DOCUMENT: This concept paper has emerged from a design process to create a food manufacturing-related development in the Southland, tying into and leveraging the existing food and beverage activity in that area. The structure and operations of the facility described here are still open to discussion and modification and are not intended to limit other potential development opportunities.


The Southland Development Authority (SDA)1 is developing a Food Processing Innovation Center (“the Center”) in the Southland, a collection of 45 municipalities in southern Cook and northern Will Counties.2 This facility will leverage the Southland’s assets and industrial activity to build a hub for food innovation and firm growth. The Center will offer flexible space that can be tailored to each tenant, with dedicated, built-to-suit production spaces as small as 2,500 sf and up to 30,000 to 40,000 sf. In addition, shared on-site services performed by Center staff – such as warehousing, maintenance, and logistics – will provide companies these crucial functions at below-market costs, achieved through economies of scale. These services are designed to primarily target two customer segments: (1) small, growing firms emerging from incubators and shared kitchens, and (2) established, mid-sized firms adapting to the rapidly changing food industry. The Center will also attract large firms operating pilot lines or equipment manufacturers showcasing new technologies. Finally, this Center will coordinate with the SDA and other food industry partners to design and manage additional business support services (e.g., workforce training, basic business consulting), delivered either on- or off-site, that will support food companies across the Southland.

This concept paper describes the market opportunity and anticipated facility design but also anticipates that details will evolve and be refined as developers, partners, and tenants are engaged in building and launching the Center. A more comprehensive draft business plan, supported by detailed pro forma capital and operating budgets, is in development.