2019 has been designated The Year of Chicago Theatre by the city, thanks to a push from its Mayor and Commissioner of the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), Mark Kelly. This is not intended to be an annual event; rather each year Chicago will be devoted to something else.
What this means is that in 2019, the theater industry will be given the chance to “refocus on a constituency that has been forgotten over the last year of internal navel-gazing: the audience.”
2017 in Chicago became known for the year brimming with public art, with 2018 focused on creative youth.
The Windy City has definitely become a player in the technological revolution. Thanks to its attractive business ecosystem, startups and Fortune 500 companies are enjoying what Chicago has to offer. Indeed, 110 honorees on the 2018 Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies were Chicago-based.
“number of wealthy census tracts has grown fourfold since 1970, people at the bottom are struggling as much as they always have, if not more—illustrating that it’s not just the white rural poor who are being left behind in today’s economy. The disconnect is why Andrew Diamond, the author of Chicago on the Make, has called Chicago “a combination of Manhattan smashed against Detroit.”
But plans are in place for additional affordable housing. For example, Logan Square is set to get 30% of the 117 units in the 120 foot tower by North Milwaukee Avenue. If the project is approved it will help Chicagoans with their housing problems. This is especially so since house prices have increased 17 percent this year.
The Chicago Conversion Project – an endeavor established by World Business Chicago, Safer Foundation, Manufacturing Renaissance, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and Chicago Federation of Labor (CFL) – at the end of July completed its business plan.
The goal is to “help retain Chicago’s industrial base by arranging the acquisition of manufacturing companies through ownership succession by groups of employees and High Road entrepreneurs, particularly African-American and Hispanic men and women.”
It is hoped that the collaboration will be able to help the transition process and identify target firms. Each of the organizations can access different networks and comes with unique skills.
For the community and economy in Chicago, this project provides a wonderful opportunity for growth.
Another group – the Chicagoland Cooperative Ecosystem – recently approached the Commission for its support of a 3 year pilot program that would encourage the development of worker owned cooperatives. According to Vice Chair of the Commission Marc Lane:
“These efforts are all driven by the notion that when employees, particularly disadvantaged populations, become owners of businesses, that will lift them out of poverty. They’ll be given a stake in the venture, self-respect and training that they otherwise wouldn’t have had.”
Dave from the City Beautiful talks about the wonders of Chicago including these facts:
• Home to the Obamas
• Most dominant metropolis in the interior of North America
• Almost 10 million residents
• 29 fortune 500 companies
• 2016 World Series Championship Chicago Cubs
• Biggest city between New York City and Los Angeles
He then details how Chicago got here as it wasn’t a foregone conclusion.
Two of the recent large business transactions that have occurred in the state of Chicago include a sale leaseback and a purchase sale agreement. We examine them both briefly here.
The first involves NY institutional fund advisor Angelo Gordon and Gold Standard Banking which just finalized its sale-leaseback for its 189K SF property at 3700 South Kedzie Ave. The buildings have been under the ownership of Gold Standard for more than two decades. According to its representative Erik Foster:
“This portfolio provided investors with tremendous long-term stability, as it is fully leased to a strong-credit tenant. The recession-resistant food industry tenant relies on the location for its operations, making this a solid investment with long-term growth potential for the new owner.”
In the last three years, the company expanded its Chicago site by 22K SF to house a new baking line to meet increased product demand. It also opened a 201K SF bakery in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, in 2017.
The second concerns Hilton Grand Vacations Inc. (HGV) in its purchase sale agreement of the top six floors of the 26-story DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Chicago Magnificent Mile. Working with Related Fund Management and The Chartres Lodging Group on the sale, this will be HGV’s first property in this market at a projected investment of around $54.5 million.
On September 21, 2018, make your way to the Aurora Downtown Campus. From 9.30am to 2.00pm, a marketing training seminar will be conducted by the Waubonsee Community College’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for anyone seeking to enhance their marketing skills and network with experts in the field.
Some of the marketing leaders who will be presenting at Marketing Mania! include: Danny Schuman, Patricia Beets and Jill Salzman. Schulman wrote the book ‘The Worst Business Model in the World: A New Kind of Guide for a New Kind of Entrepreneur.’ He also established marketing consultancy firm, Twist.
Patrica Beets works as a national correspondent and business reporter. Together with her husband David, she co-founded Dell Cove Spices & More in 2010 as an online hobby which is now being run full time by David in a commercial kitchen. Jill Salzman is a serial entrepreneur and author of ‘Found It: A Field Guide for Mom Entrepreneurs.’ She also co-hosts Breaking Down Your Business, a business podcast.
One way the schools are doing this is by offering new types of experiential education. Rather than simply offer the standard projects assigned by teachers and internships, there are now other ways students can learn.
Two years ago, local energy entrepreneur Michael Polsky gave a staggering $35 million to the University of Chicago to set up the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Through this, it is hoped that the “next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators [will be] fueled with the knowledge, skills, and experience to make a powerful social and economic impact.”
Then there is the work of Patrick Murphy who realized that students who had not learned coding “struggled to thrive in traditional computer science.” As such, three years ago he set up a 16-week coding academy giving students a real project to practice what they have learned on. He then joined local entrepreneurship and innovation center Blue1647 enabling students to meet off campus once a week to learn basic skills in simple computer language which would add website launching and app development to their skills.
Chicago is clearly on its way to giving its students the steps needed to go out into the job market.
WeWork is going green. At least for lunch. Miguel McKelvey, one of the organization’s co-founders said the following as part of his explanation as to why WeWork’s Summer Camp retreat would not be serving any meat/poultry/port at events:
“New research indicates that avoiding meat is one of the biggest things an individual can do to reduce their personal environmental impact, even more than switching to a hybrid car.”
Starbucks also seems to be on a similar green track, in its recent announcement to get rid of plastic straws from its stores. According to VP of Communications and Engagement at the Alliance for the Great Lakes, Jennifer Caddick, it is important for people to speak out, as it is those voices that “encourages industry to make changes.” At the beginning of 2018 Shedd Aquarium, the Alliance for the Great Lakes and the Illinois Council issued a joint resolution on a ban of plastic micro-beads from personal-care products. Manufacturers got on board even before the federal law came into play and the hope is that the same will be true for plastic straws.
In a recent article written by Alton Zenon III in Built in Chicago, an investigation was made into 8 tech company leaders in Chicago on innovation. Stressing the importance of innovation “for companies looking to stay competitive as markets evolve,” Zenon asked these individuals what they felt was needed to “ensure [their] company stays on the cutting edge.” He wanted to know how these leaders were creating new innovation at their firms and found the following answers:
According to founder and CEO of Project44 Jeff McCandless “you never know where the next great innovation will come from.” As such, he ensures everyone in his company has an opportunity to come up with a new idea/solution, etc.
Head of Product at Compass, Eytan Siedman is seeking to “simplify [the] fragmented experience [of] third party software tools bring[ing] engineers together with agents under one roof.”
One of CityBase’s senior software engineers, Jim Segal, says the company is “changing the way that constituents interact with their local governments by digitizing entire processes from the front end through the back end.”
Director of Engineering at Collective Health, Izi Aviyente links part of the company’s success to its “automation of processes leading to more productivity.”
Zenon III also spoke with senior executives at OneSpan, Keeper Security Inc., BRD and Eved for their input on establishing innovation at their companies as well.