Chicago has been in the spotlight over the past few months as the host of several thousand foreign dignitaries and international journalists for the 2012 NATO Summit. As the first U.S. city outside of Washington D.C. to host a NATO summit, Chicago provided an incomparable backdrop for the world ‘s influencers.
The summit put Chicago on the global stage, provided countless economic development opportunities and increased awareness for the city. A Chicago Tribune article headlined Foreign Journalists Favorably Impressed highlighted examples of journalists who were captivated by Chicago during NATO and decided to stay longer to write features on the city. Additionally, many summit visitors expressed intent to return and stay in the city longer. The long-term economic impact of the impression Chicago made is immeasurable.
Some of the summit’s economic development prospects were widely apparent--as the world’s leaders met with Chicago’s civic and business leaders. United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron utilized his first trip to Chicago to better understand the city’s digital startup scene at 1871, a digital entrepreneur hub located in the Merchandise Mart. While there, he held a roundtable discussion with Chicago-area business leaders from corporations, including Allstate, Caterpillar, Walgreens, Groupon, Northern Trust and Kraft. The Prime Minister also met with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and visited City Hall’s green roof, where he held a press conference.
In addition, Mayor Emanuel had the opportunity to meet with other world leaders about economic development opportunities. He spoke with leaders from Germany, Spain, Poland and dozens of other countries. For example, he spoke with the Prime Minister of the Netherlands about making Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport the North American hub for the Dutch flower trade; currently, the Dutch control 75% of the growing global industry.
In his press conference recapping the summit, Mayor Emanuel explained that he also spoke with the German Foreign Minister, who was in Chicago for the first time. The foreign minister noted that Germany is interested in further investment in the Chicago region and that German companies are looking at the area for their North American headquarters.
World Business Chicago (WBC) had the opportunity to promote Chicago and its business advantages to thousands of journalists in the Chicago NATO Host Committee’s International Press Center, where visitors were enamored with the city and the welcome they received (pictures are available on the Host Committee’s flicker page).
In addition, the Host Committee’s Video will continue to be used to promote Chicago’s advantages for years to come:
Countless Chicago organizations and groups reached out to the national and international visitors converging upon Chicago in association with NATO. The Community Media Workshop, in conjunction with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (CCGA), produced ChicagoStories.org, a resource for journalists covering the summit. The website is rich with articles and sources on interesting Chicago topics. CCGA also provided programming, publications and commentaries leading up to, and in conjunction with, the summit.
Beyond the impact on Chicago, the 2012 NATO Summit had an enormous impact on the world. Sixtyfour heads of state converging to shape world policy is no small feat. Official transcripts from the meetings are available on NATO's website.
President Obama summed up the weekend in his press conference to the international media. He remarked that Chicago performed “magnificently,” and leaders from around the world were exceedingly impressed. He stressed how Chicagoans couldn’t have been more “gracious and hospitable.” He also mentioned that NATO exists to defend the freedom of speech that protestors exercise and noted “that is part of what America is about.” He ended the summit by thanking Chicago’s leadership and Chicagoans for enduring any inconveniences, but noted it is “part of the price of being a world city.”