Thursday, December 1 2022

The bedroom conclusion, unsurprisingly, is more of that, please. It’s the same message that P33 started pushing before the pandemic and that Word Business Chicago, the city’s public-private recruiting arm, was peddling before.

“Chicago is one of America’s premier technology hubs,” says chamber CEO Jack Lavin.

Depending on who’s doing the count, Chicago, as the nation’s third-largest city, has long ranked in the Top 10 for tech employment. The chamber quickly embraced the idea that when it comes to jobs, tech means United Airlines as much as Google.

“It’s time to finally embrace that identity as a city and get out there nationally and internationally and talk about the strengths here,” Lavin said. “We need to have a common message, not just from a marketing perspective, but also having business leaders together.”

It’s hard to argue with that idea. The key questions are how and how much. Will the city or any of these groups organize a coordinated awareness campaign? CEOs listen to other CEOs. The bedroom could help with that.

“The great thing about the business community is that we all work well together,” says Lavin.

It’s good that three major economic development groups are finally on the same page. But the book is being rewritten, which means they’ll all have to step up their game. In a world of remote work, does tech success mean another company like Salesforce or Google moving in to 1,000 people in Chicago or that 1,000 Chicagoans end up working for tech companies in San Francisco or New York but live here?

“It used to be headquarters or big offices,” says Fred Hoch, who led the Illinois Technology Association for more than a decade and still invests in startups. “The question now is what do tech jobs mean to us? Are we the distant capital of the world? Should we be looking for different jobs? I don’t know the answers, but these are the questions we should be asking ourselves .


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