Last month, World Business Chicago (WBC) and Mayor Rahm Emanuel had the unique opportunity to host 30 of the nation’s top site selection consultants and showcase the city’s unparalleled advantages as a location for business expansion. The Chicago Showcase for Site Selectors on Sept. 24-25 included behind-the-scenes tours of cultural amenities, while also highlighting Chicago’s unmatched business environment and wide array of economic development opportunities.
“The WBC showcase opened my eyes to what is happening in Chicago right now… and it’s quite exciting to see,” said participant Jim Renzas, Principal of The RSH Group, a California-based provider of site selection, incentives negotiations, compliance management and cost segregation services.
The Showcase also gave site selectors a glimpse into Chicago’s tremendous talent pool, distinguished educational institutions, location at the center of global trade, transit and data networks, welcoming business community, and remarkable quality of life.
The program kicked off at Buddy Guy’s Legends, where WBC President & CEO Jeff Malehorn, City of Chicago Deputy Mayor Steve Koch, and Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Jim Schultz provided welcoming remarks.
The second day included presentations on Chicago’s food industry, tourism, and utility strengths from speakers Don Welsh, Choose Chicago CEO, Sam Toia, Illinois Restaurant Association President & CEO, and Anne Pramaggiore, ComEd President & CEO. Mayor Emanuel provided the keynote presentation, focusing on Chicago’s workforce, global stature, entertainment, and the City’s economic growth plan.
“If your business is seeking well-educated talent, then… Chicago deserves your most serious evaluation given the availability, education levels and quality of the workforce,” said participant James Beatty, President of Omaha-based site selection consultancy, NCS International.
The second day also included an architecture boat tour hosted by Chicago’s First Lady, followed by lunch at Motorola Mobility, overlooking the city on the company’s Merchandise Mart rooftop. Motorola Mobility’s Jeff Miller gave insight into why the company relocated its headquarters and 2,000 employees to the city last year.
Participants then took part in tours of MATTER, the health innovation incubator, 1871, the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute and a tour of Chicago’s industrial corridor. The showcase ended with a panel discussion, where guests heard from local CEOs including Gogo Air President & CEO Michael Small, Syndio CEO & Co-Founder Zachary Johnson, and Coeur Mining Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Human Resources Keagan Kerr and President & CEO Mitch Krebs. The group discussed why Chicago was the right location for their respective businesses.
“The World Business Chicago event was truly effective. The interaction with the economic development professionals as well as the Deputy Mayor and Mayor Rahm Emanuel provides site selectors and economic development consultants with the contacts and knowledge to effectively advise clients who are looking for new locations for business operations as well as existing clients who are located in Chicago and are determining where their next expansion will occur,” said participant Marty Reid, Managing Director at New Jersey-based Walton Management. “The access and focus of the Chicago economic development team will be a great asset to Walton Management Services, Inc., as well as our clients.”
WBC’s relationship with site selection consultants across the country is vital to the organization’s work in attracting growing companies and jobs to the region. The Site Selector Showcase was an important step in educating top consultants about Chicago’s unique attributes and advantages and keeping Chicago top of mind as consultants advise their clients.