Chicago Technology Sector has Enormous Potential
CCAC would like to thank Brad Henderson, CEO, P33 Chicago, for speaking at the April CCAC meeting, and for educating the membership about driving inclusive growth in Chicago’s technology industry. Henderson spoke at length about what actions CCAC members can take to support this growing industry and attract talent to Chicago.
Henderson explained that Chicago has room for improvement for science jobs and said, “Chicago has the same life science research and development in our universities as Boston…but they have 100 times the investment capital as we do.” Henderson specifically focused on quantum computing, which is a $80 million sector and uses electrons to do coding which is unhackable. He explained Chicago is well positioned to take advantage of this sector because of its access to higher education institutions but lacks the private capital investment other cities have.
Despite Chicago’s access to private capital, Henderson is disappointed that minorities have enormous difficulty tapping into that capital, which is why P33 Chicago created a $5 million investment fund to help minority entrepreneurs compete for investment and mentoring.
Henderson spoke at length about the technology workforce, which is not as large in Chicago as it should be, and does not represent Chicago’s minority communities. Efforts to keep and attract technology talent includes Destinations 312 to convince Chicagoans who left the City to return by starting out working remotely using peer support, marketing, and networking opportunities with Chicago-based companies. Henderson also encourages companies to continue providing internship opportunities, but to ensure those programs include minority outreach. His challenge was, “Find roles and exposure for these kids early in their careers so they can make up some of those social capital gaps that happen outside the classroom in our good universities.”
Henderson was also very hopeful about President Biden’s administration and what it means for Chicago’s technology industry because of its support for sustainability, of which Chicago is well positioned. Similarly, he said other governors are instituting policies that discourage companies to bring their innovative ideas to those states, which is also an opportunity for Illinois and Chicago.