Along with New York, Chicago is one of the country's leading agency towns.
The number of firms based in the Midwestern city is almost too many to count, including PR giants such as GolinHarris and Edelman, as well as small to midsize shops such as Cramer-Krasselt and Olson PR.
However, a trait of Chicago that might not immediately jump to mind is its tight-knit community, says Julian Green, VP of communications and community affairs for Major League Baseball's Chicago Cubs.
“[Chicago] is a big metropolitan city, but it's also a small community that's always willing to lend a hand and help. The city is known for coming together and supporting the community,” explains Green, who was born and raised in Chicago. “Sometimes, they call this the ‘City of Big Shoulders,' and it really is.”
1. Green's favorite place for a business lunch is Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse, a legendary Chicago steakhouse located on 33 West Kinzie Street. The building was previously the headquarters for one of the leading varnish manufacturers in the United States, the Chicago Varnish Company
2. Chicago's population is approximately 2.7 million, compared with 8.2 million in New York and 3.8 million in Los Angeles
3.Chicago has several nicknames that include The Windy City, the City of Big Shoulders, the Second City, and The City That Works
4. Chicago is home to 11 Fortune 500 companies, including Boeing, Walgreens, Sears Holdings, and Kraft Foods, while the rest of the metropolitan area hosts an additional 21 Fortune 500 companies
5. Chicago is home to more than 200 theaters, about 200 art galleries, 552 parks, and more than 7,300 restaurants
6. Wrigley Field (pictured above) has served as the home ballpark of the Chicago Cubs since 1916. Its nickname is The Friendly Confines and the stadium's current capacity is 41,160. It is the second oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball after Boston's Fenway Park
Chicago's mix of big-city and small-town flavor helps attract high-quality talent for the communications field, Green adds. People are drawn to the city for its quality of life, which offers expansive green space, a large school system, miles of public beaches, and cultural venues including museums and architecture, he adds.
Chicago is also home to prestigious universities such as the University of Chicago and Northwestern University, which Green calls “great training grounds” for fostering PR talent. “The city is appealing for potential candidates who are coming out of grad school or looking for the next opportunity to develop their careers,” he adds.
Chicago is distinct because it is still a two-newspaper town. The dominant publications, the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times, still carry a lot of influence in the media industry, while broadcast network WGN reaches audiences nationwide.
“No matter where I travel across the US, it's very exciting to see the reach of the Chicago Cubs, and that's partly because of WGN,” Green says.
Over the last few years, city officials have worked to attract businesses and innovation to the city. Since taking office, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has pledged to rebuild the city's aging infrastructure, expand O'Hare International Airport, and improve the business climate.
Companies such as GE Transportation and United Airlines have recently moved their corporate headquarters to Chicago. Giants including McDonald's, Motorola Mobility, MillerCoors, and Kraft Foods also make their home there.
“[Chicago] is open and accessible no matter where you are doing business in the world. From a PR standpoint it's well-resourced to support any major company, not only in the US, but throughout the world,” Green adds. “There's no better proving ground than Chicago to understand and execute communications programs.”
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