Monthly Archives: October 2016

Chicago Gets Taste of Olympics with Visit From Simone Biles, Plans for Village Redevelopment

simone_biles_rio_2016dNo matter where you are, the Olympic Games are a thrill. Your town may have a chance to host Olympic team trials, like Eugene, Oregon (aka TrackTown USA) did this past summer. You may happen to get a visit from a bonafide athletic super star at the airport. Or you may just lose out on the chance to host the iconic Games.

Even though Chicago ultimately lost the bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games, the city got a little taste of Olympic glory when gold medal gymnast Simone Biles recently graced O’Hare International Airport with her presence. The 4′ 8″ 19-year old was there to do a promotion for her sponsor United Airlines. Gracious and accommodating, Biles posed for selfies, assisted youngsters with their gymnastic tricks, and even tried her hand at being a flight attendant on an Ohio-bound flight.

The most excited bystanders were the kids, who were nearly spellbound by the Olympian. Clearly inspired and awestruck, kids lined up to take photos and to show Biles their handstands.

The Olympic winner is currently on tour with the U.S. women’s gymnastics team as part of the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions. She told reporters that she’s having a blast. “We’ve been traveling a lot, which is super fun because you’re on tour with your best friends.” She stated that she plans to take some time off before heading back into training.

But another Chicagoan tie to the Olympics wasn’t as triumphant as Simone Biles. The site intended to be used as Chicago’s Olympic Village, if the city had won the bid to host, currently stands empty. After a hospital closed on the site in 2008, former Chicago mayor Richard Daley purchased the land for $85 million. There were talks about turning the spot into the Obama presidential library, but it was ultimately decided that the library be located in Jackson Park on the south side of Chicago.

The city is now seeking redevelopment proposals for the 49-acre site, located in the aptly named Bronzeville neighborhood. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office stated that proposals are being accepted starting this month for a mixed-use development plan. The city will consider the site for commercial, residential, recreational, and institutional use, and they hope to select a developer by spring.

Why Businesses Are Finding Success in the Windy City

chicago-545343_960_720Chicago might be known for its devastating winters and deep-dish pizza, but with its recent addition to this year’s Inner City 100 list, it’s also becoming known for some of America’s fastest-growing businesses.

Of the 100 businesses that were announced on this year’s Inner City 100 list, 13 call the Windy City their home base.

The Inner City 100 list tracks the fastest-growing companies in urban areas and is compiled by The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City in partnership with Fortune.

The areas studied are defined as those having higher rates of poverty and unemployment, as well as lower incomes than the other surrounding areas.

Approximately 543,000 new businesses are started every month, and to have so many see success and be recognized for it in Chicago is truly a milestone accomplishment for the city.

Some of that success can be attributed to pro-business reforms that started in 2011. Chicago has been taking steps to abolish red tape and other barriers that have barred entrepreneurial endeavors in the past.

As a result, the city now boasts its lowest office vacancy rate since 2008.

However, that doesn’t mean Illinois is completely devoid of issues.

In fact, Illinois state Treasurer Michael Frerichs just suspended $30 billion in state investment activity with Wells Fargo this week.

Frerichs is joining a growing chorus of outrage at a recent scandal, which involved bank employees opening millions of fake accounts to meet their goals.

Illinois, which has approximately $1 trillion in annual bank activities, followed closely on the tails of a similar action taken by California last week.

In addition, Chicago Treasurer Kurt Summers plans to divest $25 million that the city had previously invested in Wells Fargo & Company.

“The City Treasurer is proud to stand with working families from Chicago and across the nation by divesting in Wells Fargo & Co.,” according to a statement. “Chicago deserves better.”

Fortunately, Chicago’s business and tech scenes have seen wild success over the last few years.

Lorell Marin, the founder and executive director of LEEP Forward, a special-needs pediatric clinic on the Inner City 100, said that there are increasing amounts of opportunities to gather, get to know one another, and grow in the city.