All posts by ChicagoAdmin

Small Business Saturday

On November 25, the entire country was able to celebrate Small Business Saturday. Chicago was not about to miss out.  Both owners of small businesses and consumers were able to benefit from what Chicago had to offer, especially at the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.  In fact, it’s one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Small Business Saturday has, over the years (since its inception in 2010), garnered a reputation for providing shoppers with better quality and more unique purchases.

Over in Bronzeville, there were around 20 local businesses that took the initiative to set up a spot where they sold their wares and which was especially useful for those selling pre-Christmas orders such as bakeries and decorative stores.

Meanwhile a new Andersonville store, Cowboys and Astronauts enjoyed great publicity as it had some great exposure.  After getting into the holiday spirit on Thanksgiving, this was the perfect opportunity to take it to the next level.

Traditional Chicagoan Fare

Wings, wings and more wings…Chicago is definitely known for its Buffalo wings and has some of the best ones nationwide.  This was recently ascertained in a Daily Meal ranking, which found the Windy City to be home to America’s top 25 wing establishments.   Three of those included in the list were: Superior and Wabash (no. 15), Buffalo Joe’s (19) and Bird’s Nest (20).

For Chicagoans looking for more of a nighttime activity, whereby cocktails and food are served, there is Point & Feather, run by restaurateur Adolfo Garcia. So much more than an eatery, there are 12 dart boards in the restaurant but it is not set up as an arcade or an official dart bar just “a really cool hangout that has darts machines blending in with elements of design.”   Vis-à-vis the food, the main elements are typically American and plate-sharing-encouraged.  Items include: short rib, burger, white fish, pork belly and cocktails go under names such as Queen of Thorns, Espadin Dreams and Twilight in Amsterdam.

Of course, for those looking for something that just spells out ‘Chicago,’ Schaller’s Pump is the city’s oldest restaurant and bar.  Established back in 1881 it has become quite the local legend, telling classic political and historical stories about Chicago and the White Sox.  Old-school food with no-frills booze, it’s a must-see for tourists and a “Cheers” type bar for locals.

Chicago 2017: A Review of Company Culture

Energage just published results for this year’s ranking of Best Workplaces in the Chicago area.  Using employee surveys as well as assessments of work-life balance, company leadership and more, Baird & Warner took top place. According to Energage’s CEO Doug Claffey: “Our mission is making the world a better place to work together. With the Energage platform, companies finally have a way to turn the potential of engagement into real action.”

And then there are collaborative efforts that occur within companies. For example, design and development company Adage Technologies recently started using the Scrum methodology (used in software development projects) to make collaboration go faster.  But, to ensure staff satisfaction is not lost the process, regular meetings for employees are held in which they can discuss their thoughts on how to move forward.  And Cars.com has been working toward tech team restructuring in order to cultivate more cross-functional collaboration which has worked well for company culture, increasing deployment rates in the team.

Other companies are focusing on getting healthy within the workplace: SPINS (a consumer insights and data analytics company) has an in-office gym featuring meditation, cooking demos and volunteer opportunities. And then Dose provides its employees with fitness initiatives resulting in greater staff cohesion and more.

All Chicagoan firms should take a look at what is making these (and others on the list) stand out from the rest in an attempt to bolster their own rankings on employee culture.

Chicago’s Parking Meters

In line with the 2008 city deal, next year Chicago is slated to pay  $20 million to the private firm which is hired to lease the city’s parking meters.  The money will not be connected to the additional revenues that come from the meters.

As it stands, Chicago Parking Meters suffer losses due to meters being removed or taken out of commission.  Even though the Mayor instigated changes a few years ago in an attempt to improve the situation for city tax payers (including free Sunday parking in some areas), there will still be a 16.3 percent increase from last year due to a “poorly managed” deal.

Meter parking rates have not increased in the city in the last five years.

Business News in Chicago

Illinois-based Acquilon Energy Services has created an Energy Settlement Network using the power of Internet technology and big-data analytics to facilitate the process for firms to trade commodities such as natural gas, oil and power. Given that there has been an increase in renewable power and smart-grid technologies, more powerful mechanisms are needed to record, evaluate and affirm the exchange of energy.

Meanwhile, Kentech Consulting was awarded a contract worth $1.975 m by Baltimore’s Board of Estimates.  It will use the money for its speedy process of police recruit background checks (10 times faster than city workers).  This has caused a bit of a stir in Baltimore whose officials believe contracts such as these should be awarded locally.

And then there is Between States – a show in which 50 designers come together to “imagine the future of the city’s 50 aldermanic wards.”  A joint venture of the Chicago Architecture Biennial and the Chicago Architecture Foundation, the 50 participating firms are being requested to look at Chicago’s underutilized spaces and figure out a future.  The event will run until January 7, 2018.

Chicago: Getting into the Food Industry

The food industry is “beefing” things up in Chicago.  One example of this is the work by ex-Obamas’ chef, James Beard Award recipient and celebrity chef Rick Bayless who is attempting to help Chicagoans realize their dream of becoming a restauranteur.

Bayless is doing this via the culinary training program he has established for Chicago’s low-income students.  For a minimal fee, students will learn cooking skills, and be placed into internships in top eateries in the region.  This will be beneficial to both restaurant owners and students.

Meanwhile, Garfield Park Community Council member Angela Taylor, is one of the community leaders who is involved in the development of a new food industry incubator which will ultimately create jobs in the region.   Opening a 67,000 sq. ft facility for the purpose, it will house the local farmers market and, within its first year will create at least 150 jobs.

Positives of Conducting Business in Illinois

According to a recent article by Chicago-based CPA Tom Jordan, conducting business in Illinois has many positive attractions.  Business owners in the region can actually do really well.  He further explains as follows:

  • The third largest population and GDP in America is Chicago and Analytics suggest Chicago will continue to drive the economy. As well, it is a place filled with great talent, top educational institutes and many qualities required to drive a business.
  • Strong manufacturing in the area
  • America’s transportation hub with an economic output of $40.9 billion via its air transportation per the Illinois Department of Transportation, Division of Aeronautics.

For more practical information on starting and maintaining a business in Illinois, click here.

Benefits of Leaving Landfills

Sometimes it is essential to move a landfill.  But at other times – like in the case that exists in the St. Louis region – it makes a lot more sense to leave well alone and have the landfill monitored efficiently.

This is exactly what the situation is with the West Lake Landfill.  In this case, moving it would be very problematic.  Thankfully though, West Lake is a prime example of where monitoring over the years has been successful.  And, with the work of the dedicated EPA, this is happening.

In fact, the West Lake Landfill is one of America’s “most monitored sites of its type…with $200 million invested to help solve complex problems,” which currently exist there or with the Bridgeton Landfill that sits adjacent to it.

When there is no risk to public health – as has been deemed by both state and federal agencies in the West Lake Landfill situation – leaving alone is the best solution.

Chicago’s K.I.S.S Approach to the Business of Food

A food trend is happening nationwide and now businesses in Chicago are part of it.  Starting as a small basement project in Chicago back in the summer of 2013, a few best friends who were broke and “couldn’t believe there wasn’t a better protein bar out there” got together.  It was simple and it was honest.

They were told their packaging wouldn’t work:  not appetizing, just boring facts.  But that’s what they did and today they just list the four ingredients on their packages:

  • 3 Egg Whites
  • 14 Peanuts
  • 2 Dates
  • No B.S.

Or:

  • 3 Egg Whites
  • 6 Almonds
  • 4 Cashews
  • 2 Dates
  • No B.S.

And now, it has been purchased by Kellogg’s.  For $600m.

According to a recent Forbes article by contributor Peter Wilkins, this transaction is indicative of “a growth signal for one of  Chicago’s booming new industries: simple food and beverage. Simple food and beverage companies are ones that focus on producing and distributing foods with whole, pronounceable ingredients that are transparently presented and are meant to be nutritionally good for you.”

And it seems to be what consumers want.  They want to be able to pronounce and recognize each ingredient on a label and are seeking out “less is more.”  The businesses that are providing this seem to be increasing their revenue around three times faster, while encountering a market share increase by 1.7% with their counterparts’ share simultaneously declining 0.7%.

Other Chicagoan examples include: SkinnyPop, Mike’s Hard, Peapod, Protein Bar and GrubHub.