If New York City is the finance capital…
And San Francisco is teeming with tech talent…
While Los Angeles is known as the hub of Hollywood…
What does that make Chicago?
We’re a city that’s outgrown our traditional transportation identity.
Sure, we’re still a critical nexus connecting the East Coast to the West, Connecticut to California; but as a serial entrepreneur who calls the Windy City home, I’ve seen for myself and would argue to anyone … we’re also so much more.
Consider the following:
- As of last year, Chicago hosts as many as 104 private companies on the Inc. 5000 (the year prior, it counted 95);
- Chicago landed second place on the list of Top Cities for Fast-Growing Companies.
- Of those 104 businesses in Chicago, 38 fall under the IT services sector.
There’s a reason why increasing numbers of startups – including my own – are making the strategic choice to call Chicago home.
Namely, a healthy, diverse ecosystem of business, big and small, that supports one another other.
Larger institutions invest in the agility, creative thinking, and potential of their smaller counterparts as a way to give them an edge over entrenched industry players. Because from banking to Boeing, IT to fashion, we all need upstarts to push the envelope and push ourselves.
One illustrative example. Scrappy Chicago apparel startup Trunk Club took on fashion powerhouses by being more convenient, more customer-service centric for savvy and reluctant shoppers alike. They paired personal stylists with individuals, and delivered clothing optimized for every consumer’s shape, style, and budget size.
Their success was meteoric – and continues today after being bought by Nordstrom for a formidable $350m sale.
But it’s not only symbiotic relationships that make Chicago’s business landscape so great – it’s our sheer diversity. Where as other cities can cling to one sector, Chicago defies the mold and brings numerous differentiated industries huddled together in one place.
Among the Fortune 500 companies headquartered in the greater Chicago area: United Airlines, Allstate Insurance, McDonald’s, Exelon, Motorola, Kraft Foods, Sears, Walgreens- from healthcare to technology, I could go on, and on.
Here’s what I can say from personal experience: what makes Chicago a great place to live and work is that this is a city that brings people, professionals, and businesses – from all walks of life – together.
What makes us different, makes us complementary, makes us stronger.
Chicago has an energy that all it’s own, one that you can’t easily summarize or quickly stereotype.
It’s the startup town no one is talking about, but probably should.