It seems that sometimes the things you should see most are most easy to miss, at least according to Amy Bizzarri who just published her book 111 Places in Chicago That You Must Not Miss. While going through treatment for breast cancer, she found many places – 111 to be exact – that are “must-sees” in Chicago.
Many of these places are very “easy to miss,” like Hero Coffee Bar, located at 22 E. Jackson Boulevard. Bizzarri says she just loves watching people “come across it for the first time.”
Bizzarri did her research together with Photographer Susie Inverso and the two of them found a whole slew of “beautiful, funky, delicious, unusual, off-kilter, unique, and truly wonderful places for this new guidebook.”
In this video, Tech Insider shows the best views of Chicago from the John Hancock Center. Situated on the 94th floor is an observation deck with a TILT (special attraction) enabling you to lean out over the city at approximately 1,000 feet.
Chicago-based Reverb.com is doing really great things. Just recently the company (that sells instrument and music gear online) launched its e-commerce site for music collectors. Specializing in vinyl it is anticipated that this move will bolster the firm’s success, when it goes live later this year.
And with an injection of $15 million in funding, Reverb is clearly making a name for itself in the tech industry. Big names like Max Levchin (co-founder of PayPal) and Adam Bain (ex-COO at Twitter) are making investments in the firm which will be used for new employee hires as well as the expansion of the company, worldwide.
A recent Forbes list of top largest private firms in America had some astonishing results for Chicago. Illinois, it seems is home to 13 of the country’s best largest firms for 2017. Although that figure was 14 a year ago, it’s still a very impressive record.
Number 11 on the 33rd annual list of 225 companies hails from Chicago. Reyes Holding – the firm that owns food service and beer distribution companies – is based in Rosemont and has an annual revenue of $26.5 billion. This was up a spot from last year’s Number 12 position.
The list features private firms that have an annual revenue of $2 billion+ and at least 100 staff members. Hence there were 225 companies this year and 223 last.
Here are the top 10 Illinois companies on the list and their rank:
A few years ago everyone was trying to work from home. It knocked out the commute, saved time and let you stay in your pajamas all day. But then the trend started backfiring a bit and people craved the interaction between others and being forced to get dressed rather than be on the computer in their bedroom. Indeed, at that time it was found that people craved the stimulation of the office environment and the networking opportunities it offered.
Thus, the We-Work/Hub situation was born. And the best of both worlds came into action. For those Chicagoans looking for options, today they can choose from: WeWork Chicago (for $350-750 a month in 6 locations); Level (with different options available at there 4 locations – one close to Willis Tower and its thriving community; indoor bike racks at another and cheap fees – starting from a mere $50 per month) and Industrious Chicago (which provides a large space right in the center of River North across from the Loop. As well as office facilities this has lounge area, phone booths and relaxation rooms as well as a café).
These spaces are obviously thriving since Level Office just signed a deal for a 110,000 square foot office tower at Welton and 16th Streets.
In an attempt to help Chicagoans save money on energy bills, the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) joined forces with ComEd and the Illinois Commerce Commission and the Environmental Law and Policy Center. Educating the public on how to save money from their energy bills, the first piece of advice was to invest in a smart thermostat.
A recent announcement was made by these organizations that a new incentive will be put into place, giving customers an immediate rebate for the purchase of a smart thermostat which can be programmed to automatically adjust to specific living arrangements. In other words, instead of having the air conditioner on 24/7, the thermostat will raise a few degrees while you’re out of the house and lower, just before you return.
It’s not just a smart thermostat that will do this. smartphones and (Amazon) Alexa will do the same job. But the advantage of a smart thermostat is that they actually figure out how to adapt to their users’ behavior, identify patterns and thereafter manage heating and cooling systems which will significantly reduce energy costs.
A new plan has been launched by Andrea Zopp (Chicago’s Chief Neighborhood Development Officer and Deputy Mayor) to help 50 entrepreneurs open businesses in the city’s “thrive zones.” These areas – primarily on the south and west sides – are being primed for a boost of retail energy, with the hoping of expanding the downtown area’s economic growth to other areas.
The areas – Austin, Back of the Yards, Bronzeville, Chatham, Englewood, South Shore, West Humboldt Park and West Pullman – have historically encountered substantial commercial action, which has been stunted in recent years.
The monetary assistance is intended to help local firms engage in business expansion, renovation, and more, ultimately leading to an increase in retail activity and additional job creation. Businesses involved in this include: beauty supply stores, fashion stores, grocery stores, etc. that already have a presence in the area.
Deloitte and the Global FinTech Hubs Federation recently ranked Chicago among the top five global fintech hubs. FinTEx Chicago has been advocating strongly on its behalf and as such its fintech and financial services companies now comprise 14 percent of the 50 fastest-growing companies in the region.
Fintech – a double-sided industry comprising technology and innovation in an effort to compete with traditional financial methods vis-à-vis the financial services they offer – is a great way to bolster employment. Given that the financial sector has the capacity to positively affect job growth, Chicago is looking good in that area now as well. Indeed, according to a recent report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, year-over-year employment in the region’s financial sector encountered a 3.6 percent jump (which is more than double gains in the next highest industry).
When you see this kind of increase in jobs, it is also testament to the level of savviness among citizens. Startups need more than just one genius at the top. They require solid, committed workforce which is apparent in Chicago.
One example of this comes from Alain Glanzman and what he did with his startup, WalletFi, when he took it to Chicago’s second Financial Technology Accelerator program. He was told by executives in the financial industry (from banks and credit unions) at the FinTech accelerator that if he targeted financial institutions, the company would more likely be successful. As such, he changed the direction from it being a mobile app to a real company!
One aspect that makes Chicago’s fintech unique is that it features startups as well as veteran firms. And they are codependent with established firms relying on fresh out of college engineers.
This is what Chicago is doing. This is how fintech is revolutionizing the business world there.
Chicago has been bombarded with car events recently and there are more to come. In just three days’ time, check out Woodstock’s Meet and Car Show. Skip’s Fiesta is hosting this event at Country Club Road at County Fairgrounds between 8 am and 3pm. Or you can choose (on the same day) this year’s eighth annual Chicagoland All Wheel Show North in Mundelein. The event doubles as a fundraiser for Mundelein’s Old No. 1, 1925 fire truck restoration fund. The event is held from 10am to 12pm with the award ceremony at 3.45. participants will be able to check out 25 different types of cars, motorcycles and trucks.
On July 29 at Heritage Park, there is the Classic Car Show and Touch-a-Truck event at W. Dundee Road featuring, cars, trucks and music with NBC The Voice’s very own Keith Semple. Registration here.
And the following day is the Algonquin Founders’ Day Cruise in Algonquin presented by BGV Motorsports and the Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Chamber of Commerce. A fundraiser for the Chamber’s Scholarship Fund, all automobiles are welcome and for everyone else there will be music, vendors, food and a way to support downtown business. Check out BGVMotorsports.com
This is just a snippet of the car-related stuff going on in Chicago over the summer.
The Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) recent opened a branch in the south suburbs, offering assistance to women who want to become entrepreneurs in the region.
Already – for over 30 years – this non-profit (based in Chicago) has been giving women (free) advice, programs, and services in order to bolster the amount of enterprises owned by women. Earlier this year, a small business development center satellite office was opened at Governors State University in University Park, by the organization. This was most welcome given the budgetary cuts which resulted in the closure of the Illinois Small Business Development Center.
Now though — thanks to a grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the U.S. Small Business Administration – the WBDC is opened for business!