Why We’re Involved

The Chicago region has outstanding assets: a diverse economy with strong business leadership, world leading universities and research centers, a fast growing technology economy, and the talent to attract and retain major corporations and start-ups. By connecting and building upon these strengths, developing inclusive talent pipelines, and executing a cohesive strategy that tells Chicago’s story nationally and internationally, we believe Chicago can become a Tier 1 tech hub and promote inclusive economic growth across our region.

What We’ve Done

Over the past two years, the Commercial Club and Civic Committee have co-led P33, a coalition of over 300 established and emerging business, technology, education, government, civic, and community leaders working together to transform Chicago into a Tier 1 tech hub and promote inclusive economic growth. This has included extensive research and planning phases, and we are now moving forward to the implementation phase.

Our work on P33 builds on our history of innovation leadership in both the Civic Committee and the Commercial Club of Chicago, starting as early as the development of the Burnham Plan in 1909. Our involvement has included:

     - In 1985, members of the Commercial Club of Chicago were deeply involved in the creation of the Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA).To this day, IMSA develops creative, ethical leaders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and serves as a laboratory for the advancement of STEM teaching and learning.

     - In 1985, the Civic Committee established the Chicagoland Enterprise Center (CEC) in partnership with the Chicago Community Trust. This center provided consulting services and resources to assist in the establishment and growth of small and medium sized businesses in the Chicagoland area. Among other supports, volunteer experts from large companies worked with CEC staff to provide advice and assistance that was often out of the reach of smaller organizations.

     - In 1986, the Commercial Club and Civic Committee led the creation of the Information Industry Council, a coalition of Chicago area businesses, universities, and government leaders working to make Chicago a global leader in software development. This council sponsored a number of programs to stimulate the growth of information-related enterprises in Chicago and thereby spur job growth in the technology sector.

     - In 1989, the Commercial Club and the Civic Committee worked with Governor Thompson to create the Illinois Coalition, to spearhead significant science and technology initiatives across the State. Members of the Coalition included leaders of Illinois business, labor, education, and scientific research communities. The Coalition was focused on strengthening the Illinois economy’s science and technology sector through advising State government on its technology agenda, assisting in the implementation of state-administered research and development projects, overseeing the $20 million Technology Challenge Grant Program with the Governor’s Science Advisory Committee, advocating for the procurement of major federal research projects, and leveraging $57 million of federal and private dollars for a variety of advanced technology projects for which no other funding might be available.

     - In 1999, after the Department of Energy designated Argonne National Lab as the new home of the Advance Photon Source project, the Civic Committee worked with Governor Edgar to fund a $15 million project that gave commercial entities access to the beamline technology.

     - Civic Consulting Alliance has also supported and led a number of technology initiatives, most recently including:

    • The technology transition committees for new Mayors and Governors that helped define and outline the new administrations’ goals and priorities.
    • 2011: The evaluation of the Michael Reese Hospital Site as a potential technology park, which culminated in a report released by Mayor Daley.
    • 2013: The development and release of the City of Chicago’s Technology Plan, a first-of-its kind roadmap to guide Chicago’s growth, fueled by technological innovation.

     - In addition, Kids First Chicago uses technology to empower communities and families to navigate the complex school access and enrollment process, and activate their voices in guiding the direction of Chicago Public Schools. This has included the development of The Annual Regional Analysis (ARA), which provides data on school quality, enrollment, choice patterns, and gaps in programmatic offerings across 16 regions of the city. This data supports the development of targeted strategies to address school quality across the City and offers communities unprecedented access to transparent data about their schools and the opportunity to weigh in with their own solutions to improve school quality.

What We've Learned

Chicago has many unique world class assets that we can build upon, including:

However, Chicago is punching below its weight as a technology ecosystem. As a region we are ranked:
     - #6 in stem workers (241K stem workers)
     - #10 in new stem workers per year (3.6K new stem workers per year)
     - #8 in venture capital funds in Chicago startups ($5.6B)
     - #7 in startup valuation ($6.4B)

By bringing stakeholders together and building on our assets, we can begin to transform Chicago into a Tier 1 tech hub and promote inclusive economic growth. This is particularly true for four industry-technology clusters where Chicago has an authentic “right to win”:

     1. Business IT: Applying the most recent advancements in computing and analytics to enterprise software. This could lead to the financial firm that can automate its back-office operations with the most advanced computing technology.

     2. Food and Agriculture: Applying emerging technologies to areas across the food and ag value chain – from seed to store. This could lead to cheaper harvests that are better protected from pests, connected food processing plants, and more efficient food delivery services.

     3. Industry 4.0: Applying advanced technologies across areas like manufacturing, supply chain, and transportation and logistics. This could lead to the smart factory and truck of the future, all using cutting-edge technologies that span from advanced automation to predictive maintenance tools.

     4. Life and Health Sciences: Applying advanced technologies to areas that will improve health. This could lead to the life-saving drug made with biomaterials informed by deep science R&D that makes drug delivery more affordable and more effective.

Now that we know our strengths and opportunities, P33 has been established as a non-profit entity to work towards the realization of our collective vision – to transform Chicago into a Tier 1 tech hub and promote inclusive economic growth. Across our four cluster areas, P33 will drive commercialization of research, ideas, and innovation, support inclusive workforce development, and tell Chicago’s story nationally and internationally. To learn more, please visit


    1. ChicagoNEXT, Carnegie Foundation Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, 2018; Illinois Innovation Index: Talent Index, Fall 2017; 2. OAG Megahubs International Index, 2018; 3. Trains Magazine; 4. Fortune, 2018;  5. Inc Magazine, Why this Midwestern City has the Highest Concentration of Women Entrepreneurs in America, 2018; 6. Crain's, and New American Economy Cities Index (2018); 7. ChicagoNEXT, 2018; 8. Hyde Park Angels, represents Multiple on Invested Capital for 2006-2018.

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