Business incubators are up and running in McHenry and Woodstock; Huntley now eyeing the concept

McHenry's Riverwalk Shoppes observed Festivus on Saturday, Dec. 23, 2023. The store operators said they plan to remain open on weekends through Dec. 31.

Business incubators are on the horizon in Huntley. Officials are hoping to open the doors next year.

While officials still finalize a location for the incubators and a timeline for the project, Huntley is slated to be the third McHenry County municipality to have the incubators, following McHenry and Woodstock.

The intent of the programs is to help small businesses get off the ground. In his State of the County address, McHenry County Board Chairman Mike Buehler called McHenry’s and Woodstock’s incubators “ingenious” and urged other towns to “follow suit.”

Woodstock’s incubator is located inside the Old Courthouse while McHenry’s is located at the Riverwalk Shoppes by the Fox River, informally known as the tiny shops. Both incubators opened in 2023. Whereas Woodstock set aside space in an existing building for its incubator, McHenry chose to construct theirs new, with the help of large amounts of donated material and labor. Based on a rendering shown earlier this week at the State of Huntley address, Huntley appears to be leaning toward new construction, as well.

A couple walks past the newly remodeled Old Courthouse Center in Woodstock on Thursday, July 13, 2023, during a tour of the building.

Huntley Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Nancy Binger said the Chamber is “very excited” about the incubators coming to town. She said she hopes the businesses that participate in the incubator will join the Chamber. “We love the idea that these might be future brick and mortar businesses in Huntley,” Binger said.

The incubator announcement comes in addition to other forms of support the village currently provides including a small-business assistance program.

Huntley’s incubator project received almost $975,000 from U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood’s office, Huntley Village Manager Dave Johnson said. Underwood, D-Naperville, previously represented much of McHenry County in Congress before redistricting after the 2020 census.

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