Some of the most significant businessmen in the Midwest Region

Some of the most significant businessmen in the Midwest Region

For decades, the American Midwest Region has been one of the most important places in the United States for doing businesses and investment. Currently, this area is considered vital for the commercial trades and agreements that the U.S. has with multiple countries around the world, and for being the cradle of large corporations.

It is important to say, that one of the transcendental factors for the success of these organizations, has been the great Jewish community located in significant cities of this region, like Chicago, Kansas, Ohio, among others. Those Jewish groups have settled in these mentioned cities since many years ago, coming from countries like Germany, Russia, and other nations, bringing with them new business ideas, materialized in today’s giant companies with a worldwide presence.

Let’s see some of the best Jewish entrepreneurs and businessmen who have created their great empires in the Midwest Region, bringing not only economic and commercial benefits to this area but also social and charitable actions.

Julius Rosenwald

Image courtesy of Terence Faircloth at

He was not only a superlative businessman but also a great philanthropist and social causes supporter. Rosenwald was born in 1862 in Chicago, and died in 1932, being one of the richest men in America, with a net worth of more than $80 million dollars. He owned very successful businesses like Sears, Roebuck and Company, and the Rosenwald Fund.

From a very early age, Rosenwald worked in the clothing industry with his parents, learning and understanding how this industry worked, and its commercial potential. In 1887, he founded Rosenwald and Weil Clothiers, his first clothing company, selling its products to the rural population. Some years later, this organization became the main apparel supplier of Sears, a giant retail store in that time. Years later, Rosenwald bought part of that business, taking it to a higher level.

Besides being a wealthy businessman and owner of Sears, Rosenwald was a very charitable man, establishing the Rosenwald Fund. Through this institution, he supported and contributed to multiple social causes, especially for helping the vulnerable African-American children in the rural South Chicago. Through this foundation, Julius financed with millions of dollar various public schools, hospitals, libraries, and many other institutes in Chicago.

For his great contributions and donations to Chicago, he was honored with a bronze bust installed in Illinois downtown. He was also inducted in 1992 into the U.S. Business Hall of Fame.

Related: Jewish Business in The Midwest, Hundreds of Years in History by Yosef Meystel

Sam Zell

He is considered one of the greatest businessman in America, for being the founder and leader of the Equity Group Investments, Equity International, Equity Residential, Equity Commonwealth, Covanta Holding Corp, and Anixter. Today, Zell is considered one of the richest men in the United States, with a net worth of more than $4.8 billion dollars.

Sam Zell was born in 1945 at Illinois from Polish descendants. In 1966, he graduated with a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan, where he also worked as the administrator of some university residences. Years later of his graduation, Zell started to working with real estate, founding the Equity Group Investments. Thanks to his vision and hard work, this group established the basis of the three largest real estate organizations in history; Equity Residential, Equity Office Properties Trust, and Equity Lifestyle.

Besides his giant real estate businesses, Zell invested in other organizations, like the Los Angeles Time and the Chicago Tribune in the media industry. In addition, he founded Covanta Holding Group, which is an international operator of waste energy, and Anixter, one of the biggest companies of communication and cable products in the planet.

Moreover, Zell has been a great philanthropist, financing multiple educational and investigation programs for different universities in America. Furthermore, he is a great donor for multiple Israeli associations, like the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, the Israel Center for Social and Economic Progress, or the American Jewish Committee.

Leslie Wexner

Les Wexner is without a doubt, one of the most significant entrepreneurs in the Midwest Region, for his multiple fashion and clothing businesses. He was born in Ohio on 1937, where he found L Brands, a giant fashion empire that owns important companies like Victoria’s Secret, La Senza, Pink, Bath & Body Works, among other organizations. Currently, he is the CEO of this huge corporation, having a net worth of almost $8 billion dollars.

Les is not only a visionary for the clothing industry but also a great philanthropist. In 1984, he created the Wexner Foundation, helping and supporting the formation of new Jewish leaders, both for the United States and Israel. In addition, this institution has worked with other Jewish social causes not only in Israel and America but in other nations around the globe.

In 2011, the Wexner Foundation donated more than $100 million dollars to the University’s academic Medical Center and James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute in Ohio. Due to his donations and aids, especially in his natal Ohio, Wexner has been awarded different honors, like the Woodrow Wilson Award, or the Women’s Wear Daily Beauty Inc Visionary award.

* Featured Image courtesy of Roman Boed at