CCTB plan for new changes to revitalize businesses and economy

“A new day. A new way.”            

Such was the theme on Tuesday, June 28, 2011 as the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau (CCTB) and its members convened at Arie Crown Theater for the Annual Meeting of Membership.

The CCTB seeks to enhance Chicago businesses by bolstering their efficiency and image to draw more visitors to the city. It also seeks to attract the business of conventions and trade shows. Chairman Bruce V. Rauner opened up the event by citing the vitality of the convention and tourism industry for the economic health of Chicago.

Indeed, CCTB has helped Chicago’s industry grow enormously. Donald P. Welsh, President and CEO of the CCTB, remarked that CCTB’s efforts helped Chicago attract 39.2 million domestic and overseas visitors (a 4.9 percent increase) and generate 11.1 billion dollars in direct spending in 2010. CCTB also helped expand Chicago’s global market and is currently working to establish offices in several countries, including Germany, Mexico, Brazil, and Japan.

Highlighting the event was Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who affirmed CCTB’s influence on Chicago’s economy.

Emanuel has been a vital component to Chicago’s convention and tourism industry, already securing the business of several organizations, including G8 and NATO, for the upcoming year. Emanuel emphasized the importance of businesses, ensuring that “Chicago from an industry standpoint and tourism standpoint [will stay] price competitive with our competitors around the world.”

“This is the city where you make deals and business happen,” he added. 

Kevin Cox, Vice President of State and Community Affairs of American Airlines, promised “more opportunities to open the world to Chicago” to aid the tourism industry. “Our goal is to make it easy and seamless for people to travel [to Chicago],” he said.

CCTB also promised several upcoming changes, including proactive communication, bold marketing and sales strategies, improved web content and design, region-specific advertising, and new sports commissions.

Ultimately, the CCTB’s mission to promote Chicago businesses and increase the city’s consumer base aligns with CNU’s mission of urbanism as a vehicle of economic growth. More and more people and politicians are recognizing that cities are the economic enablers of the future, and in order to fully unlock that economic capacity, work is needed to improve the design and development of cities and mold their economies for sustainable growth. 

These ideals mirror what Congressman Earl Blumenauer discussed at CNU 19 in Madison, Wisconsin this past month. Cities are crucial economic players, he said and briefly outlined his agenda of instituting livable communities through “simple, commonsense steps to revitalize, strengthen, and make sustainable the places where we raise our families, work, shop and play.”

“Good planning and design saves money and solves problems,” Blumenauer said. “Bad planning, or no planning, and stupid design ends up costing money while it creates new problems down the line.”

Rather than force city-goers to live in a predetermined way, Blumenauer propounded “more and better choices.” He suggested that cities use high-impact, low-cost technology; deal with affordability by creating and capturing value; avoid unnecessary cost; and strengthen opportunities for local economy in order to create and sustain livable communities.

Blumenauer also discussed several agricultural initiatives, such as helping farmers and ranchers grow healthy food and protect the environment at substantial savings. He went on to advocate the establishment of a bike-share transit system—bicycles being the “most efficient form of urban transportation ever designed.”

While Blumenauer zeroed in on sustainability efforts, it all speaks to the larger question of how cities can transform their economy and influence the experience of city-goers and city inhabitants alike. In what he calls “Operation Chicago,” Blumenauer hopes to join forces with Rahm and tackle the challenges facing one of the nation’s most-visited cities. His efforts include the aforementioned economic, agricultural, and transportation programs and a national call to arms to expand and refine Chicago, transforming it into a showcase for not only the Midwest, but the country as a whole. Rahm, meanwhile, is focused on confirming, reacquiring, and introducing businesses to the city.

As CCTB and CNU demonstrate through their mission, urbanism is an economic vehicle that has the power to deliver cities from recession. The enhancement of businesses and establishment of sustainable practices, both on the local and global level, are key to cities’ success, while good design creates further conditions to revitalize the economy. With the help of such organizations as CCTB and CNU alongside Rahm and Blumenauer’s plans, the economic fabric of cities across the nation is sure to change. 


Sustainability is an economic

Sustainability is an economic term. And design can help lead the way back towards business and prosperity.


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