Title: Rebranding a City Calls for Equity and a CMO


Every city has a brand - a value proposition to offer residents, tourists and businesses. Chicago identified a number of benefits: diversity of residents, a welcoming city for all people, an abundant natural resource - Lake Michigan, talent and brains that breed innovation and research, and a diverse economy with 5 top performing sectors. Do you ever hear that in the news? No. So how do you fight to change perception and the sentiment about Chicago while addressing real equity challenges that have persisted for decades in Chicago? Chicago's first CMO will tell you how in this session.

Bio:  A seasoned marketing leader with more than 25 years of experience, Michael works alongside the Mayor’s office as the Chief Marketing Officer to ensure that all marketing, branding, and business development activities for the city are aligned with Mayor Lightfoot’s economic growth plan focused on inclusive growth across Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods. In December 2020, Michael stepped in as interim President and CEO of World Business Chicago to ensure a smooth transition to a new leader while intensifying World Business Chicago’s efforts to attract new companies to Chicago. It became clear very quickly that Michael was the right person to lead WBC into the next chapter and he graciously accepted the full time position in May of 2021.


  1. Know your city’s value proposition and back it up with facts. Learn how World Business Chicago’s Research Center harnesses data to tell our story.
  2. Create your own content and tell your story - make your own media generating platform. Don’t wait for others to tell your story for you.
  3. Focus on building a community where everyone wants to live, work, & play: engage civic leaders, innovators, investors, corporations, & entrepreneurs.

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Read the Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson transition report. The "Economic Vitality and Equity" chapter was created by the committee co-chaired by Michael Fassnacht.



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