CCAC eNews
March 2019
CCAC eNews is the monthly newsletter of the Chicago Central Area Committee. For more information about the CCAC or to inquire about membership, please contact Kelly O'Brien at (312) 602-5148 or
Download the 2019 Meeting Calendar (PDF)!
The CCAC 2019 Meeting Calendar is ready to download in PDF format. The Calendar lists this year's dates and locations for our popular luncheon speaker series, hosted each month by a different CCAC member organization.
(NOTE: Locations subject to change--see website for newest calendar. Meetings open to paid members and guests, only.)

Download the CCAC 2019 Meeting Calendar (PDF)
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Political Journalist Mike Flannery Tells CCAC to Prepare for Political Change
(L:R) Greg Hummel, Partner, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner and CCAC Board Chairman; Kelly O'Brien, Executive Director, CCAC; Mike Flannery, Political Editor, FOX 32 Chicago; Natalie Farmer, Associate, Drinker Biddle & Reath; and Michael Csar, Partner, Drinker Biddle & Reath
CCAC would like to thank Michael Csar, Partner, and Natalie Farmer, Associate, of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP for hosting the March 12th membership meeting.  While overlooking the city's northern skyline, Fox 32 News Chicago political reporter Mike Flannery spoke about change coming to the City of Chicago and State of Illinois.  
Flannery started his presentation by explaining that, “When there is a promise of spring in the air, there is some good news about the City of Chicago and the metropolitan area!”  He explained there has been a significant decline in homicides and shootings, with this past year having the fewest since 2010.   Moreover, a recent study showed that students at the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) were performing better than kids in 96% of the nation’s school districts.  As CCAC membership is well aware, development has been on the rise, with the state’s biggest growth being focused in the City of Chicago.   With his arms outstretched to the skyline, Flannery said, “The second largest city in Illinois has been built -- right here -- in the middle of the largest city in Illinois.”

Turning his attention to the mayoral election, Flannery commented on the amazing results of the February election, which left two African American women in the run-off, and the interesting fact that neither candidate was born in Chicago.   Of the two candidates, Cook County Board President Tony Preckwinkle has financial resources and the support of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU); but he said the race is Mayer Brown Partner Lori Lightfoot’s to lose.   Flannery commented that neither candidate has a great deal of experience in development issues, and added that the city will miss the worldwide networking experience of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel in bringing companies and developers to Chicago.  He said, “Rahm talked their lingo…If I were in [the development] sector, I would be thinking now about ways to educate our new Madam Mayor.”

Flannery complimented both candidates by saying Preckwinkle has  stabilized the county’s pension funds, and that Lightfoot has played an active role in reforming the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and in various good government initiatives over the years.  However, he said the biggest challenge facing the next mayor will be the city’s financial challenges, including pension debt, bond ratings and balancing the city’s budget.  Before moving to state politics, Flannery said to nodding heads, “The next mayor has got to continue this economic growth we see as we look out the window.”

At the state level, Flannery commented on the difficulties facing newly elected J.B. Pritzker in instituting a graduated income tax, as it requires a Constitutional Amendment.  He predicted the Governor will get the supermajority needed in both the Illinois House and the Illinois Senate; and that the referendum will be on the ballot for the November 2020 election, where it requires approval of the electorate by either a majority of all voters or a super-majority of those who vote on the ballot question; neither is a guarantee.  Besides this proposal, other sources of revenue include what Flannery called “magic bean” solutions, such as legalizing cannabis, authorizing sports betting and expanding video gaming.  He also noted that the State is not making full pension payments, and if there is another recession, “It will just clobber us!” 

Flannery closed his remarks with a thoughtful warning, telling the audience Pritzker’s current poll numbers are the same as those of Governor Pat Quinn and Governor Bruce Rauner at this stage in their respective terms (both failed to win re-election).

CCAC members left the meeting with a better understanding of the current political climate and appreciated the opportunity to have their questions answered with Flannery’s expert insights.
March CCAC luncheon audience
Update on Central City Strategy Initiative  
As a follow-up to the December 5th CCAC Central City Strategy Roundtable, working teams have been meeting to develop concepts for a citywide growth strategy that builds new connections between the Central City and neighborhoods. This strategy identifies ways to extend the assets and vitality of the Central City to neighborhoods through inclusive and equitable proposals for business growth, job creation, mobility systems and digital technology. The teams are in the process of synthesizing and mapping their recommendations for three strategic areas: Catalytic Economic Development, Infrastructure of Mobility and Digital Equity. 
The recommendations will be summarized for presentation to the CCAC board and membership in April. The goal is to issue a Central City Strategy White Paper for use by the new Mayor and other elected officials, business leaders, policy-makers and planners as they set priorities for the city and region over the next decade.
If you did not attend the December 5th roundtable and would like additional information on the Central City Strategy Initiative, e-mail Kelly O’Brien,
CCAC Announces Plans to Visit World Expo 
After a fierce competition, CCAC member Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture was selected to design the Al Wasl Plaza for the World Expo 2020 in Dubai.  During the February CCAC meeting, it was announced that a CCAC delegation would be traveling to Dubai in 2021 to attend the Expo, and experience Dubai and its many highlights stemming from this global event.  The delegation will attend from January 27 to February 2, 2021 (yes, 2021, which is the middle of the month-long event).  For more information about the Expo, please click on either of the following links:  

For more information or to be added to the delegation list, please contact Kelly O'Brien at  
Next CCAC Meeting:
Tuesday, April 9, 2019 at Arcadis
Join us at the office of Arcadis on Tuesday, April 9, 2019 for the April CCAC Luncheon hosted by LeeAnn Tomas-Foster, City Executive, Big Urban Client Program, Arcadis. CCAC  Members and Young Leaders are invited to attend this meeting. 
“Ranking Global Cities Using the Sustainable Cities Index (CSI)”
As the Global Cities Director for Arcadis, Mr. John Batten leads a team of executives who are dedicated to delivering urban outcomes.  He will be discussing the metrics and methodologies used to rank the global cities and how Chicago fared in the Sustainable Cities Index.
John Batten, Global Cities Director, Arcadis
LeeAnn Tomas-Foster
City Executive, Big Urban Client Program
Tuesday, April 9, 2019
12:00 pm- 1:30 pm.
200 South Michigan Avenue
Suite 2000
Chicago, IL 60604
Kelly O'Brien at 

CCAC Announces that Young Leaders Evolving To: The Burnham Council
Strategy Session Highlights
Formerly known as CCAC's "Young Leader" membership tier, the newly rebranded "Burnham Council” met on March 26th.  During the strategy session, returning and new members discussed governance, programming and ways to create synergy between the group and traditional CCAC membership.  Beginning in April, members of the Burnham Council will be invited to participate in a monthly "meet-up" to be held at a coffee house or downtown food hall.  There will also be leadership elections in September 2019.  More details to follow. 

CCAC members are strongly encouraged to promote the Burnham Council in their firms by identifying the next generation of civic leaders.  Please submit names for those who should receive direct contact with information to
Chicago Mega-Region Adds Jobs
According to economists at the Indiana Univeristy Northwest, the mega-region did extremely well in terms of employment for the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019.  For November, December and January, the region experienced employment growth rates faster than the national average. In total, employment in the mega-region increased by 33,100, with the majority of this increase coming from Chicago and the Lake-Kenosha counties area. The Gary metropolitan area deserves a special mention, as it did extremely well (+1.15% employment growth). In addition to increasing employment overall, since October employment increased in every single metropolitan area within the mega-region.
Quaerter 2 Burnham Council Event: O'Hare International Airport Tour -- REGISTER TODAY
Members of the Burnaham Council will receive a special behind-the-scenes tour of the operations of the nation's busiest airport on Wednesday, April 17th from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.  Space is extremely limited, and those interested in participating must contact by April 8th with the following personal information to be vetted ahead of time as required by the Department of Homeland Security: First Name, Middle Initial, Last Name, Gender, and Birthday.      
Advisory Committee for Riverwalk and Upper Wacker Drive 
Chicago's bicycle and pedestrian advocacy group, the Active Transportation Alliance, is leading an advisory committee to develop solutions to bicyclist and pedestrian conflicts along the Riverwalk and Upper Wacker Drive, as a part of their campaign for a continuous Riverwalk Trail.  The first meeting of this advisory committee is Thursday, April 4 at 10 a.m.  If you are interested in serving, please e-mail Kelly O'Brien at for additional details.  
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