Chicago Plans Initiatives to Meet Tech Hub Goals

Amazon might not be building its headquarters there, but the city still has the resources to become one of the nation's top tech hubs.
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Chicago is not known as one of the top tech hubs in the U.S. The city’s startup scene is also not one of the largest, given the missing support and environment required to build a startup and sustain it. However, there is certainly not a lack of potential.

As the third largest city in the country, Chicago has resources. It is ranked second nationally for the number of undergraduate computer science degrees, boasts the third largest number of Fortune 500 companies and has the fifth highest startup growth rate. However, it’s not enough to just have resources if they aren’t used constructively.

The Windy City had hopes of turning things around when Amazon announced its interest in establishing its second headquarters there in 2018. When that plan fell through, it motivated local leaders to focus on building areas for some of the most innovative technology companies in the world.  

Chris Gladwin and Penny Pritzker, co-chairs of P33, set out to prove that these resources can be used to maximize Chicago’s potential as a top tech hub. P33 is a pioneering Chicago initiative aiming to change the city’s technology landscape by 2033. Focusing on the union of business and technology leaders, the goal is to strengthen Chicago’s position as an inclusive, top-performing tech city. While they included Amazon in their plan, they also believe that the initiative is best focused on the long haul, rather than short term. Because of this, the loss of the Amazon investment didn’t cause them to lose hope.

On the contrary, their initiative is focusing on the next 10 to 15 years to implement the best actions to secure a place for Chicago among the top tech hubs in the nation. This is a process that requires working on a small scale to ultimately make a larger impact. Securing more wins with technology companies and ensuring that they are offered an environment where they can thrive are essential steps.

Increasingly, companies are setting up headquarters in Chicago. This will not only boost the city’s overall economy and status as a tech hub, but also help all the graduates from some of the nation’s top universities in Chicago to find employment without having to relocate. In time, more startups are expected to be drawn to the area, and local businesses will be encouraged to further invest in the local scene. Chicago apartments will be in high demand, jobs will pay well and the city will thrive.