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.
So it’s good that the job market is booming. But as Alana Semuels pointed out earlier this year, while the:
“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.”