CCAC eNews
July 2016
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 2016 Meeting Calendar!
The CCAC 2016 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.)
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CCAC Hears About Nature Economics
“Nature and economics are not mutually exclusive - they are actually mutually beneficial if viewed and acted upon as such," explained Suzanne Malec-McKenna, Executive Director of Chicago Wilderness at CCAC's July monthly luncheon.
Created in 1996, Chicago Wilderness is a regional alliance leading strategy to preserve, improve, and expand nature and quality of life. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, in 2013, Chicago Wilderness, with over 200 members across 4 states, 38 counties, 500+ municipalities, and reaching over 10 million people, has a gross regional product of approximately $575 billion.
Providing her perspective on Chicago Wilderness, Malec-McKenna said “It’s about the collective strategy. It’s about that connection between nature and people. It’s about aligning the cross sectors. It’s about becoming a relevant, viable and scalable effort in this region.” She also mentioned when she joined the Chicago Wilderness, “relevance and impact” became her favorite two words. She continued, “We are very much about measurable work, collaboration, and about leveraging resources.” 
Greg Hummel, Chairman of CCAC; Suzanne Malec-McKenna, Executive Director, Chicago Wilderness; and Kelly O'Brien, Executive Director, CCAC
There are six interconnecting focus areas for regional impact: beyond the choir, landowners, oak ecosystems, water as a resource, data & member tools, and priority species. Chicago Wilderness is all about nature and people, aligning across sectors for regional benefit, and driving regional solutions. For more information on these focus areas, please visit
Demographics and forecasting play a critical role as well. “When we look at diversity, we are talking about the geographic, economic, social and generational aspect. We need to integrate and engage everyone in this process," Malec-McKenna expressed. "This relates to having people on the ground and involving our landowners. Many of the region’s natural areas are owned by individuals, private institutions, and businesses. Private lands are an extremely important part of the Chicago Wilderness’ portfolio." She continued with “the private lands have the potential to serve as a benefit, not just naturally but also benefitting infrastructure with railroad corridors and highways. The driver sometimes isn’t nature. The driver is how do we do things in a more economic, achievable and more impactful way.” 
Chicago Wilderness initiated a massive mapping project analyzing ecosystems in the region. Malec-McKenna highlighted data in Illinois from the 1830’s, 1939, and 2010. She mentioned, “It’s important to know if the oak trees aren’t there, the soil is still there. You have more of a potential in redeveloping or reestablishing those types of oak ecosystems around the property.” Based on the mapping, only 17% of the original oak ecosystem area remains region wide and that is equivalent to 170,000 acres of land. 70% of the remaining oak ecosystems are privately owned and 1 oak tree supports 600 species. 
Using water as a resource is another focus area for the Chicago Wilderness. Malec-McKenna asked, “How do we invest in energy efficiency through water?” Chicago Wilderness hosted “Confluence 2016”, a workshop focusing on collaboration for innovative water solutions. In attendance were nonprofit organizations, businesses, County, State, Regional, and Federal organizations, and more. While evaluating where Chicago Wilderness can have the most impact in addressing regional water-based challenges, Malec-McKenna explained, “The plan is to develop and lead a process for stakeholders to identify regulatory and non-regulatory water challenges that can be solved through nature-based actions. The next step is to prioritize and optimize implementation opportunities for action, leverage resources and implement actions."
There are a total of four regional planning organizations within the Chicago Wilderness region. Malec-McKenna expressed, “It makes it quite challenging to have consistent data across our area." When asked about sharing the data, she replied, “The data is not just for our members. Ultimately, if you need information on a particular site, whether it has ecological benefits or environmental contaminants, etc., there’s a place you can go. It doesn’t mean Chicago Wilderness will host all the data. It’s how you organize it; How do you link to it, etc.” She continued, “Whether you’re a developer, a real estate person, or working on a whole range of different things, you can count on our data for the long haul.” Chicago Wilderness has a group of data advisors to help them analyze those opportunities. The next step is to shape the discussion and then take it out for further conversation to the corporate councils.
Chicago Wilderness is also working on the newly formed Nature Economics platform. For this platform, Malec-McKenna and her team are creating a set of ten nature economic indicators with one of them being water. She noted, “there’s huge potential investing in water and the realization of infrastructure value.”
In 2010, Chicago Wilderness looked to prioritize their plant and animal species and they ended up with a total 1400 species. Jokingly Malec-McKenna stated, “It’s kind of hard to come up with a priority plan for 1400 species." This past year, Chicago Wilderness gathered advisors, developed a selection criteria and finalized a list of the top twelve species.  
In answering questions from our members, it was noted that regulatory aspects and incentives are an extremely important part of nature economics.  “Our water work is going to be solidly in regulatory and non-regulatory solutions that also bring about economic investment,” said Malec-McKenna.
The presentation concluded by alerting attendees that along with CMAP, Chicago Wilderness has been working on an effort called the UTC (Urban Tree Canopy) or (Green Analytics). This is a one-meter resolution bringing together the seven different layers of development. This data will be accessible to CCAC members in the future. 
CCAC would like to thank the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), for providing conference space for the July meeting and technical support for this presentation.
Please Note: CCAC does not host a luncheon for the month of August
Next CCAC Meeting:                                       
Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at Perkins+Will
Join us at Perkins+Will on Tuesday, September 13, 2016 for the next CCAC lunch meeting, hosted by Gina Berndt, Managing Director, of Perkins+Will.


Prasan Kale

Director of Development

CMK Companies

Matt Kirkwood

Development Manager




Tuesday, September 13, 2016



12:00 -- 1:30 p.m.



Wrigley Building

410 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1600 

Chicago, IL 60654 



Gina Berndt


Kelly O'Brien at

“Discovering One of Chicago’s Urban Developments: Riverline"
Prasan Kale and Matt Kirkwood lend their unique perspectives on the development of Chicago, speaking specifically to Riverline, their dynamic and impactful project in Chicago’s South Loop.
As the city of Chicago continues to evolve in an ever-changing economic, political, and social climate, so too does the development world. Prasan and Matt will explain what Chicago is experiencing now from a real estate perspective, and what they foresee in the future for the city. 
Please join us for this special lunch hour event where you can learn where and how Chicago will grow next.
CCAC Young Leaders Membership Tier & Upcoming Quarterly Meet-Up
CCAC is pleased to have launched this new membership tier.  As you know, this initiative is geared towards young professionals, and includes dynamic programming and networking opportunities tailored to Chicago’s next generation of leaders.  Through its Young Leader initiative, CCAC is aiming to ensure that Chicago’s future continues to have thoughtful and civic-minded leaders to meet the future demands of a world-class city. Our next gathering is scheduled for September 14th. PORT Urbanism is giving a New Navy Pierscape Tour which will include 100-year Pier History, Centennial Vision, and Design Tour with Pierscape Designers. The tour begins at 5:30 pm with a Happy Hour to follow. For membership information and to RSVP contact Shalora Jasper at
Young Leaders whose firms are CCAC Members are automatically included and welcome to attend.  Non-firm/Individual Young Leader Membership is $1,000.00 annually.   To download the below flyer please click on it for a version to distribute. 
Do You Have A Twitter Account? How About A LinkedIn Page? Connect with CCAC!
CCAC is proud to announce that we have created a Twitter Account, LinkedIn, and Facebook Page.  Please follow us on Twitter with our username @ChicagoCCAC or click the link below to be directed to our page. Please search for us on LinkedIn or Facebook under the Chicago Central Area Committee! Follow us!
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