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December 3, 2018 60 mins

Cultivating an ecosystem is extremely important in any industry. The most common example of this is Silicon Valley in the Bay Area. When everyone thrives in one place, and they all work together to build some amazing things

I’m always curious how great ecosystems can be built, living in Phoenix and Sacramento, where the ecosystem is at its infancy, I was curious on how to grow these types of functions. As I found out interviewing Alan, it does indeed take a village, or perhaps a city, but it also takes a mediator.

Alan is in charge of bridging food companies, big and small, in Chicago and heads the non-profit, the Chicagoland Food and Beverage Network. This non-profit hosts events and discussions to get the already thriving food industry in Chicago together with a  common theme that helps these different food companies understand each other. For example, a big company can learn innovation from a small company,and a small company can learn corporate structure, from a big company.

Alan’s history is also pretty amazing. We get into the details in his 14 year stint at Dairy Management including sage advice on how to network and how to learn, and how knowing the whole process, can set you up for success.


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About Alan Reed

Alan Reed. Executive Director of Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network. Prior to this role, Alan was Executive Vice President, Strategy & Innovation at Dairy Management, Inc. He was responsible for creating and driving innovative strategies to grow dairy demand.  Alan has a degree in Telecommunications from Indiana University and an MBA in Management & Strategy from Northwestern University.

About Chicagoland Food and Beverage

The Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network (CFBN) launched in 2017 to bring industry players together, to provide a forum for collaboration and support, and to better connect the 4,500 companies in the industry across Chicagoland to drive innovation and growth in the region. Our Mission is to drive inclusive economic growth in Chicagoland by bringing together the region’s food and beverage industry stakeholders to pursue collaborative opportunities.

Show Notes

Chicagoland Food and Beverage Network
Who’s all in Chicago
Kraft Hinez
Mars Wrigley
and many more!
The History of Chicago’s food industry
At least 100 years ago. Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle is based in Chicago
Advantaged in terms of transportation
Advantaged in terms of agriculture
Easy access by air and train. It’s the significant middle of of the country
It’s in the center of the North America region
O’hare Airport
Midway Airport
What do you prefer? O’hare or Midway?: O’hare has international flights. Midway lands in better flight paths
When someone asks you what you do for a living, what do you tell them?: I bring together the food and beverage industry of Chicagoland and grow the economy, industry and jobs. We’re a next generation trade association.
History of the non-profit: We started 18 months ago, so we’re relatively new. We have 75 corporate members with members like Kra

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