Monthly Archives: January 2020

Chicago’s Economy: Starbucks’ Support

Starbucks is going to be injecting a large amount of cash into the local economy. The US coffeehouse chain revealed that it will be giving $10m to the economy to support local development in an endeavor to propel economic expansion and new business owners.  This will be put primarily into the more underserved regions.

It is anticipated that at least 500 loans will be financed through this $10m donation.  Four community leaders will be given the money: Accion Chicago, Chicago Community Loan Fund, the IFF and the Local Initiative Support Corporation.

As well as money, those taking the loans will be given guidance, assistance, logistical/technical training, etc. Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks explained:

“We believe the pursuit of profit is not in conflict with the pursuit of doing good. This sustained investment will provide borrowers who often face barriers with access to capital and mentorship to grow their business and create more jobs in Chicago.” 

This is not the first time Starbucks has given generously to bolster the economy and help the impacts of the recession.  In 2011 – in conjunction with the Opportunity Finance Network – invested $5 million in its Create Jobs for USA initiative raising $15 for community lenders nationwide. 

Quality of Living in Chicago

When it comes to high quality of living in the US, Chicago is up there.  In a recent 24/7Wallst. Com ranking of best places to live, Winnetka Village took the No. 2 place.  Ranking was based on: affordability, culture, jobs and low crime rate. Situated 20 miles north downtown Chicago, the name is derived from the Native American word for “beautiful land.”

This is not the city’s first Rodeo.  Back in 2011 it was featured in CNN Money’s List of Best Places to Live.  Plus, location wise it’s hard to find a more picturesque spot, alongside Lake Michigan with its sandy beaches, historic attractions and great educational institutions.

With nearly 30 parks, eateries, specialty merchants four shopping districts, an unemployment rate of 2.4 percent and an average commute time of 37 minutes, this has a lot to offer. The only one disadvantage is the cost of living being 130 percent higher than the national average.

In terms of employment opportunities, it seems NextCapital is a good choice. The enterprise digital advice® firm was featured in the 2020 List of Best Places to Work in Chicago 2020 assembled by Built In.  According to firm CEO, John Patterson:

“Investing in the company’s growth and success starts with investing in its people. We foster a diverse culture of people and ideas through programs like 10% time, where engineers can spend 10% of their week on self-driven projects, and DIVE, an employee-driven group that encourages diversity, inclusion, and equity.”

Chicago’s Economy: What to Expect in 2020

In a recent article in Crain’s Chicago Business, three business experts were consulted on how they see Chicago shaping up in 2020.  While there has been some less-than-positive predictions for Chicago’s economy as we move into the new year, we choose here to focus on the optimistic side of things. 

Thanks to developed in various high-skilled industries (including technology and data), Chicago is starting to re-gain its global-player reputation.  With Amazon, Google and Uber having recently announced local expansions as well as the region’s universities attracting top quality students, Chicago is developing a good reputation.

In the article’s Q&A format, founder of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Geoff Hewings said:

“We have a very low unemployment rate; we are creating jobs at a healthy rate, although not a dramatic one. While we’ve never expanded at the rate of New York or Seattle, I’m honestly not sure that we want that. I don’t think we need to be the fastest-growing metropolitan economy—we just need economic growth that’s manageable. Part of the draw of Chicago is its affordability. We’ve got enormous assets in that regard, and they’re necessary conditions to help us achieve economic growth.”

Director of the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago Teresa Cordova explained it like this:

“Since the mid-1970s, more and more people—particularly African Americans—have been increasingly left out of the economy. The decline of manufacturing and other middle-income jobs led to the creation of geographic pockets of chronic joblessness that just becomes entrenched for decades. And today there are incredible disparities. We did a report showing that while Cook County leads the nation in white employment, we also lead in black joblessness. The people leaving the state are disproportionately African American. This inequality affects economic growth, and it will only get worse unless we do something.”

There is some work to be done though.  According to DePaul University’s Professor Emeritus of Economics and Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago economic consultant, William Sander:

Addressing the pension issue is fundamental. All states struggle to some degree with pension liabilities, but it is acutely worse here. We have no choice but to pay it, and the longer we put it off, the more expensive it’s going to become. It’s complicated, though, because real action requires changes to the whole system. Politically, that’s hard, but the alternative is even harder on the taxpayer.

These are just some of the issues to observe in 2020 in Chicago.

Local Sustainable Economics

Chicago – one of America’s largest and most culturally-rich cities – has historically been focused on the formulation of advanced technologies and burgeoning new options for its citizens.  This dates back to the 19th century when the region was a merchant’s city and then transformed into a manufacturing and industrial center by the 20th century.  

Today, Chicago has developed other ways of expanding its rich economic legacy through the creation, maintenance and advancement of its sustainable economy.  The choices that Chicago officials are making today will likely bolster the industries of tomorrow resulting in a more sustainable Chicago.

Some of the ways this is being carried out is via more research into data on sustainability; the implementation of applications for clean energy for the progression of sustainable solutions; recruiting firms with sustainability solutions to bolster green energy in Chicago and more.

This, in turn will lead to a bolstering of the economy in a number of ways. This includes a substantial increase in the amount of offices focuses on sustainability including the Chicago Sustainable Industries and the Green Office Challenge. There will also be additional programming at the Chicago Center for Technology and the creation of open active streets and public spaces via the Make Way for People initiative and add 180+ acres within the Chicago Park District.

All these endeavors must be working because at the end of last year a COMMERCIALCafe study ranked 50 US cities for the efforts in sustainability to create a “resilient habitat for existing populations without compromising the ability of future generations to experience the same.” Chicago came in Number 6.