Mr. Emile Cambry, Jr., the founder of BLUE 1647, describes this organization as a “tech and entrepreneur- ship incubator, supporting all forms of entrepreneurship from events, filmmakers, artists, engineers, and designers.” Blue 1647, a center which trains people of all ages, is “where diverse people working for a better world can quickly access relationships and bring ideas to life.”
Cambry, a young Black man who holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Chicago and a M.B.A. from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, is a professor at North Park College. He worked as an investment banker for J.P. Morgan Chase, and he is an accomplished filmmaker whose films have been licensed by HBO and Cinemax and Showtime. He is a founding member and CEO of the Chicago Comedy Film Festival and the American Chamber Opera Company. He is founder and CEO of the Social entrepreneur projects, the 21st Century Youth Project and the Chicago Film Group. He is also a board member of the DePaul University Social Enterprise Collective.
The Chicago Defender caught up with Cambry before he left for Blue 1647’s expansion in St. Louis.
Mr. Cambry describe yourself.
“I consider myself to be an innovator, someone who tries to view things through a different lens, with a focus on how to make thing better. I’ve had amazing opportunities to combine my previous experiences into something I love, which is creating more opportunities for more people.”
Your father is a doctor practicing in a hospital on the west side of Chicago Why then did you choose business and technology rather healthcare?
“In fact, I wanted to be a doctor like my dad until my senior year in college, but I realized it wasn’t my calling. I really wanted to do work for the community, but combine my experiences to work with others to innovate on top of the great work that’s already being done.”
What led him to establish BLUE 1647 and why did you chose to locate it in Pilsen?
“I chose Pilsen for a couple of reasons. For one, the proximity to the south and west sides of town. Additionally, the proximity of IIT, UIC, and Chicago Tech Academy was very attractive. I also wanted to bring diversity to Chicago communities. With Chicago being so segregated, I thought it was a unique opportunity, in our small way, to bring the Latino and African American communities together through technology. People shouldn’t have to walk far to experience innovation.”
What offerings does BLUE 1647 have? “We’re an organization focused on three core areas: people/professional development, workforce development, and business acceleration. All through tech- nology! We have a bevy of classes, workshops, and events to get ev- eryone excited about the latest and greatest in technology. We have all of the latest and greatest in technology. We have all of the latest tech that are more common in downtown Chica- go, but we feel it’s absolutely necessary to expose our communities to that very same technology! We have six years olds coding, and students as old as 65 building websites. Our
workforce development students have received jobs in places as far as Silicon Valley and built business- es that have attracted funding from investors. But it also functions as a co-working space, kind of like a Starbucks, except that everyone in there is building something, whether it be a company, website, or invention. We are expanding to St. Louis, Minneapolis, and Compton and eventually across the entire country.”