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CHICAGO, August 31, 2010 - Mayor Richard M. Daley came together with Chicago’s technology leaders, pledging their continued commitment to making Chicago the top destination for technology business. At a press conference at the home to many of Chicago’s recent technology successes, the Mayor announced the creation of the Mayor’s Committee on Technology Infrastructure. The committee will focus on how the City can continue to meet the space needs of the next generation of technology-based companies and entrepreneurs.
The press conference was held at 600 West Chicago (“600 West”), the former Montgomery Ward’s catalog warehouse – one of the country’s most successful mixed-use redevelopment projects and current headquarters to Groupon, one of the world’s fastest growing companies. Daley called 600 West “a thriving example of how government can support the technology industry in a way that improves the quality of life for every resident of Chicago.”
In 2003, the City invested $28 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funding to help redevelop the building, which is almost full to capacity.
“Our investment has created a home for thousands of new jobs and has helped shine a national spotlight on Chicago as a technology leader,” Daley said. “We have accomplished a lot here, but there’s much more to do.”
“As we carry out our long-term strategy to create new jobs throughout Chicago and build an even more modern and diverse economy, we must continue to target emerging business sectors that will be the foundation of economic opportunity in the 21st century,” Daley said.
“The fast-growing technology field is an essential part of our plan to make Chicago the most competitive destination in the world for new businesses and new jobs,” the Mayor said.
The Mayor’s Committee on Technology Infrastructure is composed of leaders of the tech community. Its job is to offer specific short- and long-term suggestions on how to meet the explosive and unique space needs of this industry.
The Committee will look at locations and spaces all around Chicago and suggest how the City can help create another success story like 600 West, Daley said.
The Mayor was joined at the news conference by officials of highly successful companies housed at “600 West”: Brad Keywell, and Eric Lefkofsky, co-founders, Groupon and Lightbank; Andrew Mason, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Groupon; Chuck Whitman, Chief Executive Officer, Infinium Capital Management; Tom Sossnoff, Founder, Think or Swim.
Groupon is the successful group buying website started in Chicago in November of 2008. Forbes Magazine recently named Groupon the “fastest growing company ever.” Groupon has attracted more than 13 million subscribers, expanded its presence to 85 North American markets, in addition to 29 countries, and has hired more than 1200 people in just 18 months.
Lightbank, a $100M early-stage tech investment fund, and its Founders have started seven companies that employ more than 3,000 people in over 40 offices and generate more than $1 billion in annual revenue. Infinium is one of the world’s leading financial tech services firms. Think or Swim is a leader in developing technology based investment education services.
“We take great pride in our ongoing efforts to make Chicago a prominent, growing technology sector and we are honored by Mayor Daley’s mutual enthusiasm in this evolution,” said Eric Lefkofsky. “600 West is a triumphant example of the entrepreneurial spirit of our City that we believe can be expanded with continued support such as the creation of the Mayor’s Committee on Technology Infrastructure.”
The backbone of the tech community is already in the city:
- Chicago is home to 50+ publicly traded tech companies and 199 of Inc. Magazine’s 5,000 Fastest Growing Companies in 2010.
- Chicago is home to more than 275,000 high-tech employees of more than 24,000 employers.
- Last year, high tech sectors contributed $56 billion to Chicago’s economy and it is projected that high-tech employment will add 40,000 jobs in Chicago over the next five years.
“A secure future won't happen by accident. We have to plan for it – which we’re doing,” Daley said. “We made the investment in 600 West because we know we must support visionaries – such as Groupon and Lightbank – who can identify opportunities and take risks to develop new processes, design new products and open new markets.”
The Mayor pointed out the City has supported technology growth in other projects, as well.
At the Lakeside Technology Center, 350 E. Cermak Rd., the City provided $4.5 million in support of a million-square foot data hub that’s the nerve center for Chicago’s commodity markets. The building is near maximum capacity.
At Illinois Institute of Technology, the City contributed $13.4 million in TIF funding to help create a tech park on campus designed to attract broad spectrum of tech firms, including bio, medical research, software, and manufacturing.
“I believe the startling success of Groupon is the result of a new generation of mentorship, collaboration and early-stage investment capital emerging in Chicago
. This momentum is allowing the city’s tech startups to thrive and it’s bringing a new wave of talent and energy to the City,” Daley said.
“Now our job is to take our encouragement and support for innovation and entrepreneurship to the next level. By creating the Mayor’s Committee on Technology Infrastructure, we are doing just that,” he said.
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Mayor’s Committee on Technology Infrastructure
President, Abbott Biotech Ventures
Head of Industry - Central Region, Google
Co-Founder, Lightbank / Groupon
Co-Founder, Lightbank / Groupon
Partner, New World Ventures
Executive Director, Excelerate Labs
Corporate Vice President, IT, Motorola
Founder, Open Table
CEO, Infinium Capital Management
President, Advanced Diamond Technologies
CEO, Flashpoint Academy
CEO, Sloan Valve
President & CEO, Callpod
Chairman & CEO, Paragon Pharmaceuticals
Associate Vice President, University of Chicago
Executive Director, University Technology Park at IIT
Assistant Vice Chancellor, UIC
Director, Argonne National Laboratory