CCAC eNews
February 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 the Future of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA)
CCAC would like to thank Doug Voigt, Director of Urban Design and Planning for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, for hosting CCAC’s monthly luncheon on February 9, 2016.  At the meeting the membership heard from the CEO of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA) Lori Healey regarding the future of nation’s largest convention and trade show venue that is also publicly-owned. 
Healey reminded the membership that MPEA is a municipal corporation created by the State of Illinois, and that MPEA owns McCormick Place, the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place Hotel, and an Energy Center, which is an important revenue producer.  MPEA is also constructing a Marriott Marquis Chicago Hotel, as well as a new Event Center, of which MPEA is partnering with DePaul University for sporting events and splitting the $164 million construction costs. The MPEA also owns Navy Pier, and since 2011 has been managed by the not-for-profit Navy Pier, Inc.  The MPEA drives approximately $8 billion dollars to the city and the state economy and supports approximately 66,000 jobs. 
Doug Voigt, Director of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill;  Kelly O'Brien, Executive Director of CCAC; Lori Healey, CEO of MPEA, and Greg Hummel, Chairman of CCAC
Healey explained that the lack of a state budget has greatly impacted MPEA’s bond rating, as the various entertainment and tourism based taxes collected by the State for the MPEA were not appropriated back to the agency.  She explained how in a single day MPEA’s bond rating was downgraded seven notches, which translated into an additional $15 million cost to MPEA for a recent bond sale.  A state subsidy for MPEA’s efforts to recruit shows has also been placed on hold.  Healey commented that she is confident that the State’s leaders appreciate the importance of the MPEA.  
In 2015 over 2.4 million people visited McCormick Place, which is a record high.  However, for 2016 Healey expects that number to go down a little bit because in hopes of Chicago winning the 2016 Olympic Bid, MPEA had not booked shows at McCormick until after the International Olympic Committee shows Rio de Janeiro.
In talking about the future of the campus and its surrounding areas, Healey said, “Unfortunately last week the courts did not rule immediately in favor of the Lucas Museum [of Narrative Arts] and we were disappointed because that is a great partnership for us that would work to improve the land north of Lakeside Center and provide us another asset to help market our campus. “She also added, “We continue to work closely with the City of Chicago on looking at both the Michael Reese Property and our adjacent marshalling yards– the last big stretch of lakefront property in the city and we’re beginning discussions with them on what is going to happen on that side.”  
In response to questions Healey said that replacing the Lakeside Center is not financially feasible.  She also said that while the space is large it is still an integral part of the McCormick Place campus and used by a number of the larger trade shows that would not come to Chicago if that space were not available. 
Healey was also proud of MPEA’s sustainability efforts that include a Rooftop Garden that produces approximately 8,000 pounds of food each year, and plans to install energy efficient lighting throughout the campus. 
Healey revealed her personal thoughts about the future of development downtown and said, “There are so many cranes in the sky right now, it’s crazy, it’s like 2007!”  She added, “I think it’s going to continue to particularly move south…I think you’re going to see in the South Loop what is happening in the West Loop, it’s going to become the newest office environment.”  
Her thoughts about the Connector Project was very supportive, “I think it would be great!  I think figuring out how to pay for it is the challenge.  It would certainly help.  It would give everyone the opportunity to do something different with the busways and things like that. "
Next CCAC Meeting:                                       
Tuesday, March 8, 2016 at Drinker, Biddle & Reath
Join us at Drinker, Biddle & Reath on Tuesday, March 8, 2016 for the next CCAC lunch meeting, hosted by Michael Csar, Partner, of Drinker, Biddle & Reath.
Thom Serafin, Founder & CEO, Serafin & Associates and FOX 32 News Political Analyst


Tuesday, March 8, 2016



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



191 North Wacker Dr., Chicago, IL



Michael Csar, Partner

Drinker, Biddle & Reath

Kelly O'Brien at

Thom is the founder and CEO of Serafin & Associates, Inc. He has created a unique space in the world of public affairs in Chicago and across Illinois where his counsel, strategic planning and crisis management skills are widely sought by businesses, government agencies,          non-profits and the news media. Because of his deep knowledge of the political landscape and his understanding of contemporary media, Thom appears regularly as an analyst on television and radio news; his high profile is an asset to his clients and the media alike. Thom is widely respected for his own journalism background and many years as a political consultant.
As a contributing author, he was featured in the book Crisis Communication- Practical PR Strategies for Reputation Management and Company Survival.
As a testament to his strategic mindset and influence with politicians and policy, Thom was named to the Crain’s Chicago Business 2015 “20 Most Powerful Political Insiders” list.
CCAC Young Leaders Tour One Of Chicago's Most Exciting New Development Projects
Stephen Galler, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, The Habitat Company; Andrew Moddrell, AIA, Director, PORT Urbanism; Tyler Meyr, Principal, Forum Studio; Lamar Newburn, Tishman Speyer; and Jamie Zwierzynski, ECS Limited, LLC.
The first quarterly Young Leader event held on Wednesday, February 17th included a behind the scenes tour of one of Chicago's most exciting new development projects, 150 North Riverside Plaza. Young Leaders participated in the tour of the inside of the building (including the 20th floor after going up in the construction hoist). Immediately following the tour, CCAC sponsored a "Happy Hour" networking reception at Pearl Tavern, 180 N. Upper Wacker Drive, for the participants, potential new members and others associated with the project.
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 June 23. The John Buck Company is giving a Property Tour of their new development located, at 201 N. Garland Ct., Chicago, IL. The tour begins at 5:30 pm with a Happy Hour to follow. For membership information and to RSVP contact Kelly O'Brien 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. 
CCAC Organizing A Delegation in Cuba:                        Discovering It's People, History, Culture, and Local Challenges
CCAC is planning an 8 days and 7 nights trip full of learning, fun, and friendship in Cuba with the Global Relations Travel Club (GTRC) from September 3rd - 10th, 2016. The Delegation will be visiting historical sites in Old Havana, Vedado, Havana, and Pinar del Rio. We will have the opportunity to meet with representatives of the City's Integral Development Group for a presentation on Planning, Restoration, and Urbanization in Old Havana. Each day promises to be filled with activities as well as touring exclusive Cuban venues. A few spots remain if you are interested in being a part of this wonderful trip to Cuba. Please contact Kelly O'Brien,
(312) 602-5148
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