CCAC eNews
May 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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CCAC Unveils Central City Strategy for All of Chicago 
CCAC would like to thank Doug Voigt, Partner, Urban Planning and Design, Christopher Hall, Urban Strategy Leader and Paul O’Connor, Senior Urban Strategist, all at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), for hosting the May CCAC meeting, which was also the kick-off for CCAC’s “Central City Strategy for All of Chicago.” 

Chicago leaders have a legacy of responding to changing economic conditions with bold decisions and actions that shape the physical, social and cultural environment of the city. Today, Chicago is at an inflection point. Chicago has seen rapid Central City growth, but it faces a challenging competitive world and its own local challenges with some neighborhoods needing transformational change.

The national economic upswing, since the great recession, brought a new wave of development to Chicago’s Central Area. This growth builds upon previous decades of new office, residential and retail development stretching beyond the historic Loop and central business district, creating a vibrant live-work city center. While Chicago needs to sustain a dynamic Central Area, city leaders need to ensure all Chicago communities share the benefits of this growth and CCAC is prepared to assist.

CCAC is committed to being at the forefront of creating the City’s identity, shaping the vision of a global destination and helping to set the right priorities to attract broad-based investment.

This report issues strategies and recommendations on how to position Chicago for a new era that is based on innovation, growth, and discovery, and is the culmination of CCAC working groups that were led by SOM.

In explaining the report to the membership, Hall mentioned that Chicago is in a unique position where it is experiencing growth, but not as fast as other cities, and that our city’s growth has been uneven with the downtown are experiencing a development boon while the neighborhoods have actually shrunk.  The purpose of the report is to leverage the success of downtown into the rest of the city.  The report focused on three themes:
Catalytic Economic Initiatives
New Mobility
Digital Connectivity for All

Catalytic Economic Initiatives

Catalytic economic initiatives identified by the CCAC roundtable participants and working groups cover a broad range of ideas for contracting, workforce, retail, housing and marketing strategies that build upon existing City programs and private sector activities.  One of the chief recommendations in this section is to bring success from the downtown into the neighborhoods by improving the Minority Owned Enterprises (MBE) and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) participation in construction projects throughout the City of Chicago.  Besides requiring a cultural change, it would also require procurement assistance to those businesses, as well as the use of incentives.  Changes to recruitment and hiring are also needed, such as job fairs in the neighborhoods and not just at centralized locations downtown.  The report also recommends growth opportunities for retail corridor revitalization, ensuring a diverse housing supply, and the promotion of neighborhood tourism.  Hall also discussed how the City needs to refocus on how it markets itself not just across the nation, but globally.  “This is a really affordable city,” he said, and Chicago does not promote that enough.“

New Mobility

Creating stronger connections between the Central City and neighborhoods will require a comprehensive mobility system that encompasses streets, sidewalks, transit, bicycles, scooters, ride-share and future autonomous vehicles. The system needs to be flexible and responsive to the changing needs of riders, population centers and work destinations. A part of a Central City Strategy for all of Chicago, new mobility concepts and projects are recommended for: Strengthening connections between neighborhoods and the Central City; Strengthening connections between neighborhoods and jobs across the city; and Enhance connections and circulation within the Central City.

Digital Connectivity for All

Access to the Internet is a basic necessity for individuals to participate in contemporary society as citizens, business owners, employees and students. While Chicago’s Central Area is one of the world’s most sophisticated and comprehensive communications hubs, many city neighborhoods are digital deserts, lacking access to affordable broadband and communication services. The cost for DSL and cable is prohibitive for many lower-income residents and businesses. A cell phone cannot accommodate schoolwork or job applications. Small businesses need broadband to support basic services, such as invoicing, payroll, marketing and production. Critically, major redevelopment of vacant land and underused buildings requires broadband service to attract larger businesses and their jobs in manufacturing, distribution, healthcare and education.  During the presentation, Hall said “Current technology can be deployed to expand the network of broadband service in ways that are practical, efficient and cost effective.”

Next Steps

CCAC Chairman Greg Hummel thanked SOM for their leadership and discussed that we will now begin working on specific initiatives.  Members are invited to share where they want to contribute and are encouraged be active.
CCAC in the News
Share the wealth: Group says booming downtown can help the neighborhoods
The CHICAGO SUN TIMES recently wrote an article explaing the Central City Strategy, including interviews with CCAC members. Some highlights from the article include:
"Declaring that Chicago’s competitive standing depends on bridging the gaps between its thriving core and its struggling neighborhoods, a downtown civic group is calling for broad investments in public transit, workforce training, affordable housing and other efforts to spread the benefits of the city’s growth."
"With a new mayor taking office Monday, the group hopes to focus discussions on ideas it believes will radiate downtown’s dynamism into underserved areas. These include incentives for hiring people from poor communities, bus rapid transit service on key routes such as Lake Shore Drive and Clybourn Avenue, a fast rail link from downtown to O’Hare Airport using existing rights of way, and expansion of broadband internet service."
"The report doesn’t get into cost estimates, but it accepts the notion that economic activity downtown can be used to subsidize neighborhood projects. 'If there’s going to be money taken from the downtown area, let’s make sure it’s used in the best way possible,' said Kelly O’Brien, the group’s executive director.  'As a downtown area organization, we want to be part of making positive change for all neighborhoods.'"
Did You Know?  
Information of Interest to CCAC Members.  
Outgoing Mayor Reflects on Importance of Downtown  
In a wide ranging interview at the City Club of Chicago days before leaving office, former Mayor Rahm Emanuel articulated on the importance of having a healthy downtown:  

"I get the politics of playing downtown versus the neighborhood.  It’s a rotten governing strategy.  You name me one world glass city in the world with a decaying central business district.  Name me one!  They don’t exist!  I’m proud that we have a thriving successful central business district that gives us the revenue to also fund from 14,000 to 33,000 kids in summer jobs...  
...We actually started to make the success of our downtown become the seed capital for the success of our neighborhoods...The question is do we have the policies to bring them together where we have a shared future.  And the fairness is there have been days where we have been really good at it, and days where we really haven’t measured up to the goals.  That’s the honest truth." 

To view the full video visit the City Club of Chicago's video archive by clicking here.  
Sign Up Today to Join CCAC Delegation 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, June 11, 2019 at Habitat's Hubbard Place
Join us at The Habitat Company's Hubbard Place on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 for the June CCAC Luncheon hosted by Steve Galler, Executive Vice President and General Counsel. CCAC Members and the Burnham Council Members are invited to attend this meeting to hear from Todd McLees, Founder of Pendio Group.
Through his work with Foxconn and more than one hundred other manufacturers and service providers in the region, Todd McLees has led the formation of the TENX Ecosystem for Advanced Manufacturing – a digital ecosystem.  McLees will be speaking about emerging technologies. 
CCAC June Meeting 
Todd McLees, Founder of Pendio Group
Steve Galler, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, The Habitat Company
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
The Habitat Company
Hubbard Place
360 W. Hubbard Street Chicago, IL 60654
Kelly O'Brien at  
The Burnham Council Update
Burnham Council Bonus Event
Members Tour Wanda Vista Tower
On Thursday, May 23, members of Burnham Council put on hard hats and toured the Wanda Vista while under construction.  The Wanda Vista, when completed, will be the third tallest building in Chicago.  Leading the tour were members of McHugh Construction and CCAC members Will Erickson and Caitlin Kelleher of bKL Architecture.
Members of the Burnham Council received a special tour of Wanda Vista Tower while it is still under construction.  
Burnham Council Coffee Meet-Ups - Last Thursday of Each Month
The Burnham Council will meet on Thursday, May 30 from 8 a.m. - 9 a.m. at The Revival Café Bar located at the Revival Food Hall at 125 S. Clark St. for coffee and networking.  The new monthly meet-ups are being organized by CCAC/Burnham Council member, Matt Cermak, Commercial Account Manager, Chicago Title Insurance Company.

Members are encouraged to let Matt know if they plan to attend by e-mailing but there is no formal registration.
The John Buck Company Spring Fling - June 13
Mark your calendars for Thursday, June 13, 2019, for the 31st Annual Spring Fling at the Merchandise Mart benefiting The John Buck Company Foundation and VOCEL.  For more information such as purchasing sponsorships, admission tickets, or raffles click here.  
Burnham Council Quarterly Meeting:  Take Me to the River -  June 26
Members of the Burnham Council should save the date for a happy hour and program on Wednesday, June 26th with Alderman Walter Burnett of the 27th Ward, leaders from the  R2 Companies, and to hear about improvements to the Chicago River through the Wild Mile project. Stay tuned for more details to be provided by CCAC/Burnham Council member, Penelope Campbell, Partner, Jenner & Block LLP.
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