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World Business Chicago Reports Business Development Efforts at Fall Board Meeting

World Business Chicago (WBC) today announced the appointment of 18 new board members and reported on the organization’s activity in support of Mayor Emanuel’s business attraction and retention efforts at the meeting of its board of directors, held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

At the fall board meeting, directors approved the appointment of new members representing companies from throughout Chicagoland. These individuals are charged with helping to contribute to the economic landscape, including promoting the benefits of doing business in the Chicago area to their peers worldwide.

“World Business Chicago and its directors have been playing an active role in the city’s business attraction and job creation efforts throughout the downtown area and all neighborhoods of the city,” said Mayor Emanuel. “I value their leadership and support and look forward to working with them to continue to grow the economy, bring more companies here and create more jobs for Chicagoans.”

In keeping with the regional efforts recommended in WBC’s Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs, new board members represent the metropolitan area. New board members include: Jim Abrams, chief operating officer, Medline Industries, Inc.; Tony Bouchard, executive vice president and central region executive, AECOM Technology Corporation; John Buck, chairman and CEO, The John Buck Company; Patrick Canning, Chicago office managing partner, KPMG LLP; Mark Furlong, president and CEO, BMO Harris Bank; Matthew Gibson, managing director and co-head of investment banking, Midwest, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.; Ilene Gordon, chairman, president and CEO, Ingredion Incorporated; Dean Harrison, president and CEO, Northwestern Memorial HealthCare; Lori Healey, CEO, Tur Partners; Patricia Hemingway Hall, president and CEO, Health Care Service Corporation; Aylwin Lewis, CEO, Potbelly Sandwich Works; John Pratt, managing director, investment banking, Bank of America Merrill Lynch; John Rau, president and CEO, Miami Corporation; Larry Richman, president and CEO, PrivateBancorp, Inc.; Rick Stephens, senior vice president of human resources and administration, The Boeing Company; Rich Sykes, Midwest office manager, McKinsey & Company; Don Thompson, president and CEO, McDonald’s Corporation; and Keith Williams, president, Underwriters Laboratories Inc.

“We are grateful that these leaders have agreed to put their considerable skills to work on behalf of Chicago and the region and appreciate their support, energy and efforts to help grow the region’s economy and create jobs,” said Michael Sacks, vice chairman of WBC. “Their expertise and leadership will bring additional momentum to WBC’s economic development efforts and Chicago’s status as a global city.”

During the meeting, John Rogers, chairman and CEO of Ariel Investments and chair of the Mayor’s Supplier Diversity Task Force, presented on the important issue of supplier diversity in business. At the request of the Mayor, WBC helped organize a supplier diversity roundtable with dozens of companies to present best practices and drive the use of minority- and women-owned businesses by their companies. The Mayor reiterated his commitment to fostering opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses throughout Chicago.

WBC Executive Committee member Glenn Tilton reported on the initiatives that have been implemented to support its Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs. Unveiled by Mayor Emanuel in February, the Plan aims to coordinate and accelerate economic development in Chicago and throughout the metropolitan region. WBC recently appointed leadership teams to support each of the Plan’s 10 strategies and announced the creation of a fellowship program to support each strategy tea

Over the last year, Mayor Emanuel, who chairs WBC, has announced numerous initiatives which are aligned with the Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs, including:

  • The creation of the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, a 501(c)(3) organization that will leverage private investment funds to finance public infrastructure projects. The first project targeted will be a $225 billion green retrofitting of government buildings
  • Expansion of City Colleges of Chicago’s College to Careers program
  • Launch of Skills for Chicagoland’s Future by Mayor Emanuel and Cook County Board President Preckwinkle to address workforce skills gap in Chicago and Cook County
  • Development of a regional export strategy, for which WBC is working with existing federal, state and local institutions to support the growth of small and medium-sized businesses in Chicago
  • Several “good government” initiatives including, the reduction of required business licenses by 60 percent, from 117 to 49. The new reforms mean fewer business owners will be fined for having the wrong license and over 10,000 small businesses will see an annual savings of over $2 million
  • The formation of ChicagoNEXT, a Council on Innovation and Technology led by WBC director J.B. Pritzker that will focus on increasing venture capital investments in Chicago and supporting startups and entrepreneurs

For a complete listing of initiatives and other relevant information about the Plan, visit

WBC also released its project metrics data through September 30, 2012. During that period, WBC has recorded more than 103 new business prospects for the city. Of those prospects, 33 companies have committed to locate and expand in Chicago, accounting for 13,563 jobs, new and retained.

“These metrics demonstrate that World Business Chicago’s work to grow the city’s economy has been successful this year,” said Rita Athas, president of WBC. “We have expanded our outreach efforts to be more strategic and focused as we look to grow the region’s economy and create jobs and look forward to building on this success.”


The minutes from WBC’s April 2012 Board meeting are available here in PDF format.

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