CHICAGO – December 16, 2021 — PRESS RELEASE — Cresco Labs, a vertically integrated multistate operator, today unveiled plans for its new Illinois Cannabis Education Center (ICEC), the first business incubator and workforce development center created by a cannabis company. The ICEC will expand the ongoing work facilitated by the Company’s SEEDTM (Social Equity & Educational Development) initiative. In partnership with educational institutions, workforce development organizations and business associations, it will provide immersive education and hands-on training in a functioning dispensary for social equity licensees, minority-owned ancillary businesses, students and members of communities adversely impacted by the war on drugs.
Deputy Mayor Samir Mayekar, Illinois State Reps. Edgar Gonzalez, Eva Dina Delgado, Margaret Croke and La Shawn Ford, and Alderman Rod Sawyer joined Cresco Labs executives and staff for an unveiling event of the ICEC today.
“Despite delays in federal legalization, we embrace our responsibility to help make this industry more inclusive and to provide tangible pathways to business opportunity and employment for people from communities disproportionality impacted by the War on Drugs,” said Charlie Bachtell, Cresco Labs’ CEO & Co-founder. “The mission and goals for the Illinois Cannabis Education Center align with Cresco Labs’ values of social equity, social justice and inclusivity, which are critical for the development of a responsible industry, which creates respectable industry and will make cannabis the most robust industry possible.”
The ICEC will be a welcoming and community-focused destination, offering annual programming that aligns with SEED’s pillars:
Entrepreneurship: The ICEC will empower and jumpstart the creation of minority-owned plant-touching and ancillary cannabis businesses. Staff will provide technical assistance on the execution of business plans for new dispensary, craft grow and infuser licensees, as well as guidance for ancillary businesses seeking to provide goods and services to the cannabis industry.
Education & Workforce Development: The ICEC will collaborate with Illinois colleges and universities to provide cannabis curriculum for students, entrepreneurs and community members predominantly from historically marginalized communities. Participants will receive hands-on trainings focused on compliance, security, technology and daily operations in a formerly operational, fully functioning dispensary to understand all aspects of cannabis retail. The ICEC will also serve as a community recruitment center providing resources for employment at Cresco Labs and other Illinois-based cannabis companies.
Restorative Justice: The ICEC will serve as a venue for community and restorative justice-oriented events, such as expungement events.
“We believe the ICEC’s community-based approach to engagement will provide every participant with the knowledge, skills and ongoing support they need to realize their potential in the cannabis industry,” said Chima Enyia, EVP of SEED at Cresco Labs. “The ICEC is a first-of-its-kind cannabis education center—the only place in Illinois where new licensees can get real-world, on-the-job trainings in a dispensary to learn operations and train staff. It will nurture the ambitions of students so they so they can make informed decisions about their future and the careers they might choose to pursue in cannabis. Through integrating the opinions and ideas of every participant, coupled with leveraging our collective resources and networks to support our communities throughout Illinois, we look forward to engaging with community partners in the opening of this center. This is just the unveiling—the real work begins now.”
The ICEC will open early 2022 at 3812 N Clark St. in Chicago. For more information about Cresco Labs’ SEED initiative, visit crescolabs.com/seed.