The Business Climate of Chicago – An Overview of an International City

The Business Climate of Chicago – An Overview of an International City

ChicagoYosef Meystel, formerly president of YAM Management, remains strongly connected to the Chicago business and philanthropic communities. After receiving his MBA from Indiana University South Bend, Mr. Meystel earned more than 15 years of experience in the field of residential property management. He is currently a major investor in several healthcare-focused businesses in the Midwest, and maintains close ties to his local Jewish community through extensive philanthropic work.

For Yosef Meystel and his fellow business leaders, Chicago has proven itself as a region with a thriving corporate culture, a diverse pool of professional talent, and a global perspective. Situated at the crossroads of the United States and at a central point between the markets of Europe and Asia, Chicago boasts a larger economy than many nations. The Windy City is additionally attractive to emerging entrepreneurs and companies because it offers a relatively low cost of living in proportion to its high quality of life index.

For example, one recent report found that a typical lunch in Chicago’s business district might cost $13, in comparison with $15 in San Francisco and $16 in New York City. Chicago’s walk score is rated at 75 out of 100, due to its highly walkable downtown area, an efficient public transportation system, and numerous pedestrian-friendly communities.

A Business Insider article published in 2013 called Chicago the most underrated city in the country. Relocating professionals entering the Chicago market typically find it far easier to rent new accommodations for themselves and their families at attractive prices than in other major American cities. The cost of buying a single-family home or condominium in a desirable neighborhood is also far cheaper per square foot than in comparable areas in New York, San Francisco, or Boston. In mid-2015, Chicago’s overall quality-of-life index stood at 175.79, higher than those of Los Angeles and New York.

Chicago’s general business climate is highly diversified, with no one industry responsible for more than 14 percent of total employment. The city’s annual gross regional product is approaching $600 billion, and it is home to hundreds of major national and international corporations, dozens of which are ranked on the Fortune 500. Any business executive hoping to network among corporate leaders in the city will find every significant market sector represented, including health care, manufacturing, information and communications technology, and finance.

In fact, Site Selection magazine noted that Chicago was the location for more newly created or expanded corporate facilities than any other metropolitan area for the two most recent years examined.

Chicago’s powerhouse financial sector is particularly worthy of comment: The city’s share of the global trading market in derivatives exceeds 20 percent and is larger than that of New York and even that of all European derivative exchanges combined. In total, Chicago’s derivatives exchanges contributed close to $5 billion to the annual worldwide trading volume in 2014 alone. Many business experts consider Chicago to be unrivaled as the world’s focal point for derivatives trading.

In terms of its information and communications technology sector, Chicago saw an average of 275 new digital companies established every year during the period from 2011 to 2013. Crain’s Chicago Business listed numerous technology and telecommunications businesses on its 2014 list of the city’s fastest-growing companies. That list also included companies focused on construction, real estate, transportation, and health care.

Beyond the technology industry, health care contributes a significant number of new jobs to the city annually. One 2014 study found that health care was among the industries in which there was the most demand for skilled employees in the Chicago area. Along with boasting a strong performance in the traditional health care sector, Chicago could well be poised to become a hub of innovation in the health care technology industry.

In addition, Chicagoland medical schools and residency programs are among the most prestigious in the world, and the area is home to the headquarters of several professional associations in the field, including the American Medical Association. Combined with the city’s forward-looking technology accelerator programs, these factors strike many business writers as creating an ideal climate for progress throughout the high-tech health sector.

Forbes magazine and other business publications have pointed to Chicago as a nexus for start-up companies of all types. From 2010 to 2014, investors poured more than $3 billion in venture capital into emerging Chicago-area companies, and significant amounts of VC funding continue to flow through the city from hundreds of investment organizations.

As a truly international destination, Chicago lists some 1,800 foreign-based corporations among its wide range of businesses. The reverse is also true: Chicago-based businesses have ties to some 10,000 locations in 120 countries and territories around the globe. The long list of metro Chicago-founded brands recognized around the world includes Motorola, Oscar Mayer, Groupon, Kraft Foods, Crate & Barrel, and many more. In addition, there is another long list of major employers—such as Microsoft and Google—that provide jobs to thousands of Chicago-area residents.

Photo: Chicago by Roman Boed /CC BY