Farm roots run deep in Chicago: Job outlook bright for AG students

CHICAGO — Students will be the ones charting the course for the future of the agriculture and food industry.

“The food and beverage industry is changing rapidly, and answers probably won’t be found by the adults in this room. It will be the students,” said Alan Reed, Chicagoland Food and Beverage Network executive director.

“Food and beverage is a massive part of our economy, and it’s one of the things Chicago is best known for,” Reed said during the Sowing the Seeds: Chicago’s Leadership in Food and Agricultural Education event held at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences.

“Companies come here for the talent that’s here,” he said. “There are 4,500 companies and 130,000 people here just in food manufacturing, which results in a $32 billion gross domestic product.”

The Chicagoland Food and Beverage Network was launched about six months ago with the mission to bring together the food and beverage industry of the area.

“The network was started because the MacArthur Foundation was looking for an inclusive industry to invest to grow the economy,” Reed explained. “They found that not only Chicago food and beverage has great prospects because everyone has to eat, but also the jobs with food and beverage range all the way from entry level to white collar jobs.”

Panel members representing Chicago’s leadership in food and agriculture education provided the following comments during the event.

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