All posts by ChicagoAdmin

Recent Chicago Transactions

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.

Business Development Opportunities: Mark Your Calendars

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.


Begin your STEM Career in Illinois

While Illinois boasts  the second largest producer of computer science graduates nationwide, there is still a severe lack of STEM graduates.  As such, universities in the region are trying to encourage students to think about the possibilities open to them with a degree in this subject.

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.


Green Food?

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.

Chicago: Technology, Innovation and Advancement in Business

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.”
  3. 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.”
  4. 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.


Small Business Strategies in Chicago: Part II

Last week we covered the first 6 approaches to small business development recommended by members of the Forbes Chicago Business Council. Chicago’s small businesses do exceedingly well as a result of these marketing strategies. Ready for the next 6? \

7. Think about social responsibility. “Giving back” and appealing to people on a personal level garners more support than aggressive marketing techniques. ShoppingGives’ Ronny Sage explains that the company’s recent TechweekGives campaign brought more than 50 local companies together and raised more than $1 million.

8. Pull users in to marketing efforts. Encourage them to become your brand’s advocates by sharing their experiences, photos and reviews on social media, as suggested by Jonathan Treble of PrintWithMe, Inc.

9. Form ties with larger networks. Have them share you vision for you, such as FanFood’s Carson Goodale’s message: “You don’t need to be the sharpest tool in the shed to pursue a dream, rather to have the self-discipline to overcome obstacles, time and time again. ”

10. Recruit within your region. Don’t neglect local talent- keep recruiting within your community, if possible, for real investment and a stronger local network, according to Darren Guccione of Keeper Security.

11. Collaborate with universities, says Civis Analytics’ Dan Wagner. These connections will help your business locate unique, fresh talent.

12. Street teams are important, says Adam Hirsen of UPShow. Get people on the ground who encourage others to advocate for and get enthusiastic about your product.

Small Business Strategies in Chicago: Part I

Local businesses grow and thrive via their communities, making them a different organism than their larger-scale counterparts. In Chicago, small businesses are doing especially well due to the efforts of numerous professionals and the local residents. According to members of Forbes Chicago Business Council, there are several approaches that have made small businesses in Chicago so successful:

  1. Partnerships with other local startups. According to Ben Margolit of Rentgrata, Inc., networking and exploring partnerships with other businesses cultivate relationships that have the potential to stimulate significant growth, especially when both organizations share a similar target customer base.
  2. Transit advertising. Seemingly old-fashioned, advertisements places on trains and other means of public transportation generated a lot of traffic for Augmented Retail Company, according to Anne-Marie Kovacs. She also listed social and influencer marketing as impactful tools.
  3. Joining the local tech scene proved valuable to Devbridge Group, according to Aurimas Adomavicius, allowing the company to generate organic referrals and efficiently meet their clients’ needs.
  4. Showcasing stories. An alumni blog series captured the essence of Victory Lap’s graduates, allowing their story to stand out and their content to be seen by a wider audience, according to Brian Bar.
  5. Events and relationships. Nothing beats natural interactions and personal referrals when it comes to building up a reputation. According to Bobby Goodman of Truss, attending events and meeting other startup teams helped the company cultivate strong relationships and generate new business.
  6. Organizing events and tours. According to Ross Freedman of Rightpoint, sponsoring and speaking at industry-focused events and summits grants immeasurable exposure and legitimacy to a company as well as invaluable insights and knowledge into different business ecosystems.

WOW Opens Chicago-Delhi Flight

Chicagoans now have access to a new, more affordable flight to Delhi thanks to WOW Air. The airline, which has been offering cheap flights to Iceland from all over the U.S., has begun to expand beyond Europe and North America, opening a whole new world of travel options. WOW’s new flight to Delhi starts at $199, and will also be departing from Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Washington D.C., among others.

WOW Founder and CEO Skúli Mogensen said: “I am thrilled to broaden WOW Air’s offerings and bring low-fare international flight service to India.

We are passionate about continuing our mission of enabling everybody to fly by making international travel accessible and affordable for all, and look forward to expanding our global service to provide travelers with the opportunity to see many parts of the globe, whether for business or pleasure.”

Every WOW flight has a layover in Reykjavik, which, while possibly inconvenient, gives travelers an opportunity to see a bit of WOW’s native country. The airline also offers a stopover feature to help make your delay more enjoyable.