Welcome to Boxville: Chicago's first business incubator built out of shipping containers

ByZach Ben-Amots Localish logo
Sunday, April 25, 2021
Welcome to Boxville: Chicago's shipping container incubator
Bike repairs, haircuts, groceries, tacos, hot dogs, running gear, tea, spiritual guidance... you can shop for anything at Chicago's shipping container incubator: Boxville.Boxville isn't just Chicago's first shipping container business incubator; it's also got a rare business success story during COVID-19.

CHICAGO -- When Bernard Loyd founded Boxville on a collection of vacant lots on Chicago's South Side several years ago, he had no idea it would become a community hub for the Bronzeville neighborhood and one of the city's fastest growing business incubators.

"Boxville has doubled every year (since 2016)," said Loyd.

In the past year, the incubator grew from hosting 4 businesses to now hosting 9. They'll be welcoming even more small business owners by the end of the year.

From bike repairs to haircuts, groceries to tacos and hot dogs, running gear to spiritual guidance, you can shop for anything at Chicago's shipping container incubator.

Boxville is only one of five initiatives that are part of Build Bronzeville, a nonprofit dedicated to providing community resources, business support, and civic engagement to the South Side.

"We're in the middle of landlord-tenant and partnership. We're in the middle there to encourage them, to give them a platform for the business to be set-up for success," said Alexander Martin, director of Boxville.

Eventually, Martin and Loyd hope to launch Boxville 2.0, which could include 100 total businesses and four stories of shipping crates.

"Commerce is the key to rebuilding a community," Martin said.