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2014: Year in Review

2014: Year in Review

2014 filled with transformative projects and initiatives to impact the city’s economy for years to come

Dear Colleague,

Happy new year. For World Business Chicago, 2014 was a year filled with transformative projects and initiatives that will impact the city’s economy for years to come. Our strategic outreach in 2014 helped contribute to an increase in companies including ADM, Braintree, Gogo and Yelp choosing to expand and locate in Chicago, bringing thousands of jobs to the city. WBC continued to drive Chicago’s economic growth with major initiatives reaching from Chicago’s neighborhoods to overseas.


On a global front, WBC helped to strengthen relationships with several international partners.

  •         Chicago served as the backdrop for the 25th U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT). The forum provided a unique opportunity for the city and the nation to strengthen their partnerships with China. During the session, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel presided over the signing of an agreement between Beijing-based Wanda Group and Magellan Development Group to build the Wanda Vista project, the first result of the Gateway Cities memorandum of understanding (MOU), which fortifies Chicago’s place as a gateway for Chinese investment in partnership with eight Chinese cities.
  •         WBC continued to bolster ties with Mexico when we welcomed a group of nearly 50 business and government leaders from Mexico City as part of the Global Cities Economic Partnership, a program developed through Brookings’ and JPMorgan Chase’s Global Cities Initiative, and aimed at helping city and metropolitan leaders become more globally fluent. The delegation, led by the Secretary of Economic Development of Mexico City, shared economic development best practices and learned about Chicago’s Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs.
  •        Chicago Sister Cities International (CSCI) received the 2014 Best Overall Program Award for a city with a population over 500,001 from Sister Cities International. The Chicago-Shanghai sister city partnership was also recognized as 2014 Best Overall US-China Sister City Partnership. Last year alone, CSCI welcomed 27 international delegation visits and hosted 56 committee meetings and 118 events, exchanges and programs.
  •         Last year’s Chicago Consular Corps Gala paid tribute to our global partners, with an international guest list that included members of the 84 foreign consulates and honorary consulates in Chicago and keynote speaker, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. The event showcased why Chicago is a global city, bringing together 600 guests and raising more than $800,000 to support the work of WBC  and CSCI and fund Chicago Consular Corps scholarships to the University of Illinois at Chicago.


In the innovation sphere, we’ve also seen tremendous progress.

  •         WBC hosted more than 100 of the nation’s most influential venture capitalists, who connected with nearly 30 of the region’s most promising early- and growth-stage technology companies at the first annual Chicago Venture Summit. The summit provided investors substantial one-on-one access to high-potential startups, along with access to Midwest-based LPs and Chicago’s Fortune 500 leadership.
  •         During ThinkChicago, WBC hosted 125 students of technology, innovation and entrepreneurism from top universities throughout the country including MIT and Stanford to explore the city’s vibrant innovation ecosystem. The program connected students with Chicago business leaders who cumulatively have 750 job openings.

In addition to strategic outreach, WBC continued its sponsorship for key trades shows and special events with an estimated total attendance of over 150,000, including presence AdvaMed, IMTS, World Routes Show, Data Center Dynamics, Forbes Reinventing America Summit, WEF Water Summit and many more. Our research department responded to more than 200 requests for information. We’ve also presented to more than 10,000 people in 2014.


Chicago’s Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs advanced significantly in 2014, launching initiatives under WBC’s leadership that are truly impacting the city.

  •         Our organization helped coordinate the winning bid to launch the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII), which broke ground in 2014. DMDII is the nation’s flagship research institute for applying cutting-edge digital technologies to reduce the time and cost of manufacturing, strengthening the capabilities of the U.S. supply chain, and reducing acquisition costs.
  •         WBC advanced Supply Chain Innovation Network of Chicago (SINC) by appointing Doug Whitley as the Interim Executive Director. SINC is a leadership council developed to improve the movement of goods to stimulate regional economic and business growth.
  •         Metro Chicago Exports launched in 2014. The unprecedented collaboration between the City of Chicago and Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will Counties helps small and medium enterprises capture expanding global opportunities and strengthen the region’s network of export service providers.
  •         We announced the 1,000 Jobs for Chicagoland Manufacturing initiative along with Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Federation of Labor. The initiative will match 1,000 qualified job seekers to open manufacturing jobs and link residents who need additional skills to training and apprenticeship programs that can result in full-time employment.
  •         The Plan fostered neighborhood development through programs including Chicago Anchors for a Strong Economy (CASE). The capacity building program graduated nearly 100 small businesses located throughout the Chicagoland region and expanded to 11 anchor institutions that have committed to supporting local suppliers and businesses. In addition, the Capital Access Centers (CACs) pilot program launched at three neighborhood locations; already 80 referrals have already been made via the CACs, outpacing pilot program goals.
  •         In 2014, WBC hosted 18 fellows from 14 companies in its distinguished Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs Fellowship Program. The program offers prominent professional development opportunities for mid-level executives throughout the Chicago area to drive the Plan’s strategies. Our thanks to A.T. Kearney, Bain, CohnReznick, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, Exelon, Gensler, Grant Thornton, Hyatt, KPMG, Madison Dearborn, Morgan Stanley, Newedge, The PrivateBank, and Wells Fargo for contributing fellows.

On top of it all, we are growing as an organization. WBC added 13 new board members in 2014, a diverse array of leaders from a mix of sectors who will help direct our organization as we continue to prosper. I’ve shared just some of the highlights from a very busy year. And there is much more in the pipeline. We’d like to thank everyone who has supported our work and served as economic development ambassadors for Chicago in 2014. We look forward to working with you to advance our efforts even further in the year ahead.



Jeff Malehorn

President & CEO

World Business Chicago

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