New program to strengthen local businesses in Chicago


On March 17, World Business Chicago (WBC) held a press conference at Parkway Ballroom, 4455 S. King Drive, to announce the start of a new program called Chicago Anchors for a Strong Economy (CASE). CASE will strengthen Chicago’s economy through local business involvement, both small and medium-based.

CASE is a network of Chicago’s leading “anchor” institutions which include: the city of Chicago, Cook County, Illinois Institute of Technology, Rush University Medical Center, The University of Chicago, The University of Chicago Medical Center, University of Illinois at Chicago and Commonwealth Edison.

“Chicago’s businesses are the backbone of our economy, and by connecting them with the city’s largest institutions and providing them with training, we are giving them new opportunities to compete,” said Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, chairman of WBC.

WBC states that even though any business is welcome to apply, it is partnering with the consulting group Next Street to identify businesses which align with the anchor institutions’ procurement opportunity.

In 2014, the capacity building program will work with 100 businesses, divided into five cohorts of 20 businesses each. Every cohort will have a different set of criteria based on the needs of participating anchor institutions.

However, the minimum criteria includea local presence and selling a product or service that is relevant to the anchor institution buyers.
The CASE program model was developed by the WBC team in close relationship with the University of Chicago, which approached WBC with an interest in pursuing a local purchasing initiative.

“The University of Chicago is committed to working in partnership with our surrounding communities to spur economic development and create new opportunities for local businesses on the Mid-South Side,” said Robert J. Zimmer, president of University of Chicago.

The University of Chicago also announced UChicago Local, a separate but similar initiative to CASE. UChicago Local conducted their Phase 1 initiative on March 18, which is focused on supporting 10 Mid-South Side businesses. These businesses would attend business-to-business and business-to-consumer forums to introduce their goods and services to potential customers.

CASE is demand-driven, meaning that anchors will identify priority industry and service areas that offer likely opportunities for local bidders. These diverse industries can range from Food and Catering Services to Vehicles and Heavy Equipment.

“The purpose is to redirect the spending to Chicago neighborhoods to help them be more competitive. Chicago benefits from diverse communities that can bring solutions to the problems that we have in the region, and this is just a terrific opportunity to help businesses,” stated Jeff Malehorn, president and CEO of WBC.

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