Lightfoot to lead 18-member delegation on five-day trip to London and Paris
Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel traveled the world in his relentless quest to lure businesses to Chicago. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has made one trip to Canada and numerous domestic trips, but, nothing overseas — until now.
Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel traveled the world in his relentless quest to lure businesses to Chicago.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot has made one trip to Canada and numerous domestic trips, almost always mixed with political fundraising. But nothing overseas — until now.
The mayor will lead an 18-member delegation of city officials and business leaders to London and Paris next week on a five-day trip — July 11-15 — to pitch Chicago as a great place to do business amid what she has called the “best economic recovery of any big city in the nation, bar none.”
Lightfoot will meet with London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo to exchange ideas on how to “build back better” after the devastating financial shutdown tied to COVID-19.
She will also tout Chicago’s “ecosystem” and record growth in the burgeoning field of financial technology during a speech at Fintech Week London 2022.
The mayor’s office claims 2021 was a “record-breaking year” for financial technology in Chicago, “mirroring global trends” in what is now now a $130 billion industry.
According to the public-private job growth agency known as World Business Chicago, the trend continues this year, thanks to the “concentration of financial and insurance talent” in the city.
Already this year, 16 financial technology companies based in Chicago raised $479 million in venture capital. Ten others raised $53 million in seed funding.
Five Chicago-based financial technology companies had “exits” — defined as plans to dispose of an investment in a business venture or financial asset — valued at more than $730 million.
“Chicago’s economy is thriving and our business sector has set records, keeping us competitive with top global financial cities,” Lightfoot was quoted as saying in a press release announcing the trip.
“On behalf of our world-class city, I’m thrilled to lead a delegation of city officials and business leaders to London and Paris, where I look forward to discussing Chicago’s economic strengths, speaking at Fintech Week London 2022 and learning new ideas to further develop our business community and economy.”
World Business Chicago CEO Michael Fassnacht said the 13-member delegation of business leaders who will accompany the mayor and her wife, First Lady Amy Eshleman, will help both in “promoting Chicago as an investment-friendly city” and in “strengthening important and long-standing global business relationships.”
As the “first city in America” to unveil a “comprehensive” post-pandemic recovery plan, Chicago looks forward to exchanging “best practices with our peers in London and Paris,” said Samir Mayekar, deputy mayor for neighborhood and economic development.
Fassnacht and Mayekar are among four city officials going with Lightfoot and Eshleman on the five-day business junket. The others are Transportation Commissioner Gia Biagi and Planning and Development Commissioner Maurice Cox.
World Business Chicago will bankroll travel expenses for all city officials and staff.
Thirteen business leaders will accompany the mayor for at least a portion of the trip and cover their own expenses.
They include: Betsy Ziegler, CEO of 1871; Smita Shah, president and CEO of SPAANTECH, Inc.; John Holmes, president and CEO of AAR Corp.; Lynn Osmond, president and CEO of Choose Chicago; Jim Reynolds, chairman and CEO of Loop Capital; John C. Robak, chairman and CEO of Greeley and Hansen; Charles Smith, founder and CEO of CS Strategy; Jose Luis Prado, chairman of Tropicale Foods and Palmex; and Blake-Anthony Johnson, president and CEO of Chicago Sinfonietta.
In an April speech to the City Club of Chicago that laid the groundwork for her re-election bid, Lightfoot argued Chicago was poised for the “best economic recovery of any big city in the nation bar none.”
From business relocation and expansion to pedestrian and retail traffic, retail rents, conventions and trade volume at O’Hare International Airport, Lightfoot argued that economic activity in Chicago is booming.
“There’s a narrative out there that our city is headed in the wrong direction. That noise is completely belied by these objective data points, which show a very robust economy that is creating jobs and opportunity,” the mayor said then.
“Our city is strong and solid and well-poised, well-poised to be one of the strongest economies in the nation.”
When Lightfoot asked the audience who had heard “most of these positive economic milestones,” only a few hands were raised.
“We need to own our own narrative. And we need to tell these stories so that our people understand it, our businesses continue to have confidence, investors continue to flock to Chicago and we break through the noise,” she said on that day.