Our city benefits every day from its diverse community of entrepreneurs, artists, and innovators. Musicians from Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Albertina Walker, Koko Taylor, Ramsey Lewis, Chicago, Wilco, Richard Marx to Jennifer Hudson, Kanye West, Common, and Chance the Rapper continue to put our city on the world stage. Today, as our powerful technology sector draws companies and workers from around the world, our thousands of creatives continue to create the art and culture that helps draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to Chicago every year and make those of us who live her proud. Creatives make the films that showcase the beauty of our landscape, perform the concerts and plays that bring our community closer together, create the websites that take a human-centered design approach to make it easier for our neighbors to meet their needs, and so much more.

Yet we hear, more and more often, that some of our most creative residents are not benefitting from living in the city that is benefitting so much from them. The affordability crisis that has affected all of us is especially threatening for many members of our creative workforce. It is vital that we ensure that all members of our community can continue to live and work in Chicago.







ChicagoMade engaged Next Street Development Strategies to conduct a study that demonstrates the economic impact that the Creative Industry has in Chicago and its economy. This work includes a fact base assessment, definition for the ‘Creative Industry,’ quantitative and qualitative analyses, best practice research on peer cities, and recommendations on areas of opportunity to better elevate creative entrepreneurs.

Developed from Los Angeles’ creative economy study model (completed by Otis College of Art and Design and the Los Angeles Area Economic Development Corporation), ChicagoMade’s study has built its methodology off of economic development, rather than social sciences and humanities as other cities have done. This study also looks at a broader range of sectors, which were expanded to include industries that have a great importance in Chicago’s creative economy such as food and craft artisans. The geographic area covered includes the City of Chicago, Cook County, and the Chicago Metropolitan Area, and includes a specific section with neighborhood-level data and analysis, when sources were available.

With this in mind, the report profiles Chicago’s creative industries; quantifies the creative industries’ contribution to the broader economy; and identifies what is needed to elevate the ecosystem for creative industries. By establishing a baseline on the city’s creative economy, Chicago can align its creative industry ecosystem and empower these economic engines to sustain growth, uplift the neighborhoods they serve, and grow the city’s economy from the ground up.


Click here for ChicagoMade Creative Economy Impact Study

Click here for full materials

This report was made possible by the generous support of:

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this study, from community stakeholders to our civic, business and philanthropic partners to our focus group participants.

A special thanks to the following:

  • Chicago Community Loan Fund
  • Chicago Community Trust
  • Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection
  • City of Chicago Mayor’s Office
  • DuSable Museum of African American History
  • Illinois Facilities Fund (IFF)
  • Joyce Foundation
  • National Museum of Mexican Art
  • Rebuild Foundation
  • School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)
  • Chef Clifford Rome
  • Southside Community Art Center
  • Norman Teague
  • Women’s Business Development Center