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Chicago Loop Alliance kicks off Downtown Futures Series with 'The Talent Equation'

Posted  5 years ago

Press contact: Jessica Cabe | PR and Communications Manager, Chicago Loop Alliance | jessica@chicagoloopalliance.com | 312-782-9160


CHICAGO—Attracting and retaining employees looks a lot different than it did even just five years ago. In the past few weeks alone, stories have been told of the Loop’s 15-year-old Citadel Tower undergoing a $100 million upgrade to provide a rooftop deck, fitness center, lounge and 180-seat conference center; of Sprout Social expanding its lease in that tower by 64,000 square feet; of the role flex time and the option to work from home can play in keeping employees satisfied; of the importance of a world-class urban environment as the backdrop to one’s office.

These examples and countless more are proof that in order to remain competitive, companies have to keep up with talent’s changing demands. How can a premier downtown, where the perceived value is matched by a high-performing urban environment, impact a company’s employee equation?

This is the topic of discussion for the first event in Chicago Loop Alliance’s (CLA) 2018 Downtown Futures Series. "The Talent Equation = Space + Amenities + Neighborhood" takes place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 19, at 1871, 222 W. Merchandise Mart, Suite 1212. Tickets are $20, or free for CLA members, and can be purchased at loopchicago.com/downtownfutures.

Talent acquisition and retention are no longer just a company’s responsibility – cities have an increasing role to play. Kevin Willer, co-founder and partner at Chicago Ventures; Tim Handorf, cofounder and CEO at G2 Crowd, named one of the best places to work by Crain’s Chicago Business in 2018; Maggie Brophy, leasing director for the Telos Group, LLC; and Eddie Lou, executive chairman and co-founder of Shiftgig, in a discussion moderated by David Broz, principal at Gensler, will discuss how the combination of attractive office spaces, on-site amenities and a thriving neighborhood makes up the equation for acquiring and retaining talent.

"Team members are expecting more perks from their companies than ever before," said Willer. "They hear about what the big tech companies provide, and are looking for the companies here in Chicago that offer similar perks. They want to work in a well-designed space with plenty of open areas, not closed-door offices, where they can collaborate and share ideas. They want to work in vibrant neighborhoods where there are great restaurants, trendy bars, lots of exercise options, close to parks and waterways, and hopefully affordable housing nearby.

"Anybody interested in how a big city like Chicago is developing both its downtown and neighborhoods to attract the best companies and talent would benefit from this discussion – especially if they are trying to recruit and retain talent in their organization," Willer continued. "They can expect to hear a number of strategies and tactical ways to make their organization competitive in this environment."

Willer, Handorf, Brophy and Lou are particularly qualified to speak on this topic, as they have all in their own ways succeeded in making their companies or their real estate desirable places for their talent. Willer was the founding CEO of 1871, and he took talent acquisition and retention into account when choosing the location and designing the space. Handorf recently relocated his fastgrowing company, G2 Crowd, downtown from the suburbs and is uniquely qualified to speak on why he did so and what it’s meant in terms of recruiting talent. Brophy is focused on unique leasing assignments and re-branding efforts. And Lou has built Shiftgig in Chicago, starting in a coworking space and then moving to different offices to meet the space needs of his growing business.

"Chicago Loop Alliance created the Downtown Futures Series to bring urban thought leaders together in order to share solutions and best practices for businesses in the Loop," said Michael Edwards, president and CEO of Chicago Loop Alliance. "Recent studies have shown that a major factor in site selection for businesses is access to top-notch talent. We have that here in Chicago. But once a business chooses to locate in the Loop, they’re tasked with tapping into that talent pool and holding onto excellent employees. The purpose of this panel discussion is to examine trends in what works to attract and retain talent right here in Chicago."

David Broz, principal at Gensler and moderator of "The Talent Equation," said companies have to appeal to changing demands in order to attract and retain talent.

"It’s not enough anymore to offer a competitive salary and traditional benefits package," Broz said. "In order to remain competitive, a company has to have all of the factors we’ll discuss at this event. The office space has to be modern and friendly to collaboration; the amenities in the building have to go above and beyond; and the Loop as a neighborhood has to be seen as 'the place to be,' with nightlife, cultural offerings, great restaurants and housing that meets demand. If a company can ensure this equation, it will be the leader of the pack in talent acquisition and retention."

Sponsors for the 2018 Downtown Futures Series are Streetplus (presenting sponsor) and Time Zone One and Sun Badger Solar (supporting sponsors). Food and beverage for "The Talent Equation" will be provided by Gayle’s Best Ever Grilled Cheese and Dos Toros Taqueria.

About Downtown Futures Series

Chicago Loop Alliance’s Downtown Futures Series, now in its third and final season, brings recognized urban thought leaders into public dialogues on emerging downtown trends and their impact on Chicago’s Loop. Forums are held three times annually.

About the keynote: Kevin Willer

Kevin Willer is a managing partner at Chicago Ventures, a seed-stage venture capital fund where he is overseeing all aspects of the company. From 2011 to 2013, he was the founding CEO of 1871, a top-ranked co-working center for hundreds of startups. Previously, Kevin co-founded the Google Chicago office where he helped bring more than 400 professionals and led relationships with some of Google’s largest marketing partners in the Midwest. Before Google, Kevin held business development positions at CMG and USRobotics.

About the panelists

Tim Handorf is the CEO and co-founder of G2 Crowd, where he helped the company to become the world’s largest business software and services review site. He has spent more than 15 years developing and delivering software in a variety of roles. Before G2 Crowd, he was responsible for leading product management at BigMachines.

Maggie Brophy is a leasing director for the Telos Group, LLC, where she focuses on unique leasing assignments and re-branding efforts with both entrepreneurial and institution investors. Brophy came to Telos from Jones Lang LaSalle, where was a vice president with the Chicago leasing team having worked on assignments like the repositioning of 515 N. State in conjunction with Beacon Capital Partners an DCallahan Capital Partners.

Eddie Lou is the executive chairman and one of the founders of Shiftgig. As a former general partner of OCA Ventures, he invested in 10 portfolio companies. Lou is also the co-founder and board director of One Goal, a non-profit that improves college acceptance and persistence by empowering urban high school students. Previously, he founded PlanetHVAC.

About the moderator: David Broz

David Broz, an 18-year Gensler veteran is Principal, a leader of Gensler’s global Community Sector and a member of the Gensler Management Committee. He serves on the Academic Advisory Board at the University of Kansas School of Architecture, and he is the immediate past chair of Chicago Loop Alliance’s Board of Directors. He is also the founding chairperson of the Chicago Placemaking Committee and founding member of the Wabash Arts Corridor Advisory Board, and he serves with the Chicago Department of Transportation’s Placemaking Advisory Committee.

About Chicago Loop Alliance

Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA), the sole service provider for Special Service Area#1-2015, creates, manages and promotes high-performing urban experiences, attracting people and investment to the Loop. For more information, please visit www.LoopChicago.com.