May 12, 2021


Fassnacht has served as interim President and CEO of World Business Chicago since January of this year. 

CHICAGO— Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and World Business Chicago (WBC) Vice-Chair Mellody Hobson announce that Michael Fassnacht has been tapped to serve as President & CEO of World Business Chicago.

Fassnacht, who serves as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) for the city of Chicago, a position held within WBC, has led the economic development organization, in an interim capacity, since January 2021.

“Getting through and beyond economic recovery requires a steady grip, focus and expertise. Michael brings that and more to the City of Chicago,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “Time and time again, Michael has demonstrated his passion for inclusive economic development and investment while simultaneously creating eye-catching and memorable marketing initiatives that center the authenticity of our residents. I am thrilled that he will continue supporting our city in his dual roles as my Chief Marketing Officer and president and CEO of World Business Chicago.”

WBC is a public-private, non-profit partnership that drives inclusive economic development, job creation, supports business and promotes the city as the place for international businesses to invest. Mayor Lightfoot serves as organization chair, Mellody Hobson, vice-chair, supported by 86 board members and executives.

“As ‘the city that works,’ Chicago is a great place to do business.  From our central location; to our access to emerging talent from our world-class universities; to our 28 miles of public beach and lakefront—Chicago has the essential ingredients enterprising businesses need to grow and expand,” said Mellody Hobson, WBC Vice-Chair and Co-CEO and President of Ariel Investments.  “On behalf of the Board of Directors, we want to offer our sincerest thanks to Michael for helping lead our organization during a challenging time for our city, country, and world.  The momentum is building, and Michael’s continued efforts will be essential as we look to ensure an equitable and inclusive economic recovery for all of Chicago.”

Today WBC serves a critical role in supporting businesses, promoting Chicago as a leading global city and driving inclusive and equitable recovery, focused on the city’s high-growth areas of TD&L, Manufacturing, Life Sciences & Healthcare, Tech, VC and Innovation. As the city’s economic development arm, WBC leads business acquisition, workforce and talent, community impact and equity, support of our business community and more.

“From our city’s 77 neighborhoods to our commercial centers, business districts and corridors to downtown, we are one city,” Fassnacht said. “History has proven, over and over, we are resilient and imaginative and innovative. I look forward to continuing to serve the city of Chicago by supporting an equitable and inclusive recovery. Chicago should become a role model for any global large city of how to enable and drive economic growth for all its residents.”



“World Business Chicago is very fortunate to have Michael Fassnacht become its President and CEO. Over our many interactions and joint efforts during the past six years, it is clear to me that his creative mind and strong leadership skills will prove instrumental as WBC continues helping Chicago attract new businesses and talent as well as expand existing businesses within Chicago. I also anticipate an even stronger relationship between City Hall and WBC given Michael’s dual role as WBC’s CEO and the City’s Chief Marketing Officer role. This is an exciting development for Chicago’s growing business community.”

Mark Tebbe, Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Booth School of Business and Chair of ChicagoNEXT 

“The path to full recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic opens up many exciting opportunities for Chicago.  It is in times like these that WBC’s focus on equitable economic development, vibrancy of the city and supporting the things that make Chicago a great place for companies to do business and for people to live and visit is most powerful.  Michael brings a wealth of experience and a strategically-focused approach to delivering on these important areas.”

Mark Hoplamazian, President and CEO of Hyatt Hotels Corporation 

“Most of us struggle doing one job well. Michael has proven that some can actually do two jobs—and do them extremely well. His creativity, energy and enthusiasm are a great Chicago treasure, and I’m delighted it will be spread around these two key jobs.

David Casper, U.S. CEO, BMO Financial Group 

“World Business Chicago meaningfully connects business and civic leaders to unlock and sustain economic opportunities, which is critical as we look forward. Michael Fassnacht’s appointment to president & CEO of WBC is exceptional news for Chicago. He is as strategic as he is creative and his passion for our city and innovative approaches to successful collaboration will bring the organization to new heights.”

Mary Dillon, Ulta Beauty CEO and incoming Chair of the Economic Club of Chicago 

“As Chicago starts coming back as strong as ever post the pandemic, World Business Chicago will play a central role in continue communicating all of Chicago’s strengths and advantages it offers to investors and corporations planning to move their businesses to a vibrant location. Michael is the right leader at the right time to write the next bright chapter for WBC and our beloved City.”

Jose Luis Prado, Chairman of Chicago Sister Cities International, Executive Advisor Partner of Wind Point Partners and Vice Chairman of Benestar-Evans Food Group 

“Chicago is a world-class city like no other and the work World Business Chicago does on the city’s behalf is critical to Chicago’s economic health and vitality. Michael’s proven track record of success, combined with his expertise and passion for all Chicago offers, make him the perfect choice for this role.”


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