CCAC eNews
January 2021
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 2021 Meeting Calendar (PDF)
The CCAC 2021 Meeting Calendar is ready to download in PDF format. Until further notice all CCAC meetings will be held over Zoom.  

Download the CCAC 2021 Meeting Calendar (PDF)

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Top Economist:  Economic Recovery Dependent on the Virus
CCAC would like to thank Rick Mattoon, Vice President and Regional Executive, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, for making time to educate the CCAC membership on the state of the economy and sharing his predictions for 2021.  Mattoon told the audience the economic recovery is fully dependent on controlling the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Mattoon explained that the damage to the economy in 2020 was not as bad as most economists had anticipated because many industries were able to adapt.  For example, manufacturing was able to adjust their operations to keep workers safe, and professional services were able to transition employees to work from home.  The sector of the economy not able to adjust was mostly leisure and hospitality. 
Mattoon shared that commercial real estate prices have crashed.
Another reason the economy did not suffer as much was because the jobs lost tended to be lower wage positions.  While that is devastating to those families who are personally impacted, from an economic perspective, higher wage households did not see as many job losses and were able to support the economy.   He also explained those who are unemployed are facing long-term unemployment, and minorities were disproportionately impacted because they are more likely to have lower wage jobs.
Mattoon explained how the real estate sector is booming as families are looking for more space combined with low interest rates.  The only thing holding this surge back is a lack of inventory, which is pushing up housing prices which will continue into 2021.  The flip side however are the challenges facing commercial real estate, which has crashed as offices continue to shrink their footprint as companies transition to more non-traditional operations.
Looking forward Mattoon said, “The path of the pandemic will dictate what the shape of the recovery is going to look like…Once the vaccine becomes widely available the economy is going to have a strong snapback.” Mattoon predicted that employment levels will be back to pre-pandemic levels by the start of 2022, and that the Federal Reserve Bank will purposefully keep interest rates low even when the recovery is well under way.
Focusing on Illinois Mattoon explained how Illinois is in the middle of the pack compared to the other 50 states and operating at 70% of where it was before the pandemic.  This is explained by having a diverse economy that does not rely on one sector, such as oil and gas which has greatly hurt southern states.  He acknowledged the State still has problems and said, “Illinois has not made a lot of headway in improving the solvency of its fiscal condition, particularly when looking towards the future.”
He also explained how the State’s population loss was almost entirely from downstate Illinois due to less immigration, and the metro Chicago’s population was actually holding steady.  He also showed that neighboring state Minnesota has higher taxes than Illinois but experienced a population gain, which might suggest that for economic growth purposes how taxes are structured are more important than how high they are in total.
Mattoon said that personal savings has skyrocketed which suggests there will be a quick recovery once the virus is under control.
Mattoon expressed support for the central business district’s future.  He said, “Cities aren’t going away.  Cities have been resilient through history.  There are good reasons why cities exist, they enhance productivity, and are important for expanding new knowledge, knowledge spillovers, and creating agglomeration economies that can’t be duplicated in lower density economies.”  However, he did explain there may be some adjustments to the downtown as companies adopt some of the changes from the past year on a permanent basis.  
Mattoon concluded his presentation by reminding the audience, “Until we get [COVID] case counts under control, until vaccines are widely distributed, and we get some level of herd immunity, the pace and the shape of the economic recovery is going to be dictated by these health concerns.” 
Congratulations to CCAC Board Member: 
Dr. Suzet McKinney
On January 12 Sterling Bay announced that CCAC Board Director and former CEO/Executive Director of the Illinois Medical District, Dr. Suzet McKinney, joined them as Principal and Director for Sterling Bay's Life Sciences Division. In her role Dr. McKinney will oversee Sterling Bay's relationships with the scientific, academic, corporate, tech, and governmental sectors involved in the life science ecosystem, as well as manage the experience and facilitate the growth of life science tenants in Sterling Bay developments.
Dr. McKinney is a nationally recognized public health expert who brings decades of experience and qualified medical expertise to the company.  Dr. McKinney has confirmed that she will also continue in her role with the CCAC Board. 
New CCAC Board Member Kimberly Dowdell
The CCAC Executive Committee Board met virtually on the morning of January 6 and unanimously approved the nomination of Kimberly Dowdell, Principal, Director of Business Development, HOK, to serve on the CCAC Executive Committee as a Director.  Her recent contributions to CCAC include co-leading the Little Village Corridor Revitalization Team, and the INVEST South/West Bronzeville RFP team. She also served on CCAC's website redesign committee. Dowdell served as the 2019-2020 National President of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA).  In addition, she won the 2020 AIA Young Architects Award honoring individuals who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and she was recognized by Architectural Record’s 2020 Women in Architecture Awards program for her activism efforts.  She holds the unique distinction of being a “40 under 40” honoree in both Crain’s Chicago Business and Crain’s Detroit Business.  CCAC Chairman, Greg Hummel, said, “Kimberly Dowdell is a welcome addition to the CCAC Board.  She brings expertise and insights that will allow CCAC to continue advancing its mission and shaping Chicago’s strong future.”
Please Participate:  Chicago Loop Alliance Survey
Recently Michael Edwards, President and CEO, Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA), was a guest speaker on the CCAC/Alliance webinar series.  As a follow up, CCAC members have been invited to participate in CLA's monthly survey tracking operating plans for businesses located in the downtown area.  Please click here to fill out the January survey.  Participants will also be entered into a drawing for a $100 gift certificate to a Loop area restaurant.  Thank you for your support.
Burnham Council Update
The Burnham Council is planning several events this year that focus on the future of the Central Area and encouraging professional networking amidst a time of great change. Please join us and seize the moment! As the next generation of leaders shaping our city, the Burnham Council will facilitate conversations and align programs that broadly focus on the future of the Central Area throughout the 2021 calendar year. Our first event, planned for Thursday, March 4th, will be a virtual happy hour with a facilitated discussion on issues and potential solutions facing our Central Area’s economy, infrastructure, cultural vibrancy, and livability. Stay tuned for more information.
If you would like to learn more about the Burnham Council or if you have people at your company interested in joining, please Contact Burnham Council President Andrew Broderick at or Burnham Council Member Matt Cermak at  
Next CCAC Virtual Member-Only Meeting:
Tuesday, February 12, 2021 
"Is Retail Dead?"
Let's enjoy a lively discussion on the status of retail. Can retail survive after COVID and the growth of the internet? We will review the current status of retail and the future of brick and mortar. All attendees will receive an updated new & active retailers list for Chicagoland. 
Mike Mallon, Senior Vice President, Draper and Kramer
CCAC February Member Meeting
Mike Mallon, Senior Vice President, Draper and Kramer
Tuesday, February 12, 2021
12:00 - 1:00 p.m. 
Webinar via Zoom
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