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Chicago Loop Alliance unveils five-year strategic plan for organization and Loop neighborhood

Posted  2 months ago  in  Trending

4 MIN READ — Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA) recently released an extensive five-year strategic organizational plan, commissioned to take advantage of the evolving downtown and CLA’s role in the Loop following several years that significantly altered the district and organization’s business model. To create the report, CLA contracted consulting firm BDS Planning and Urban Design, who conducted focus groups with Loop stakeholders and partners; analyzed the current landscape of Chicago Loop Alliance; and advised on the future trajectory of the organization to meet the Loop’s needs.View the full strategic plan here.


The five-year strategic plan also incorporates some elements of the recently released Elevate State report developed by an Urban Land Institute technical assistance panel.

“In a pivotal time for downtown’s globally, Chicago Loop Alliance’s ability to shape and nurture the unique atmosphere and landscape of the Loop provides another potential advantage to the city of Chicago if utilized properly," said Michael Edwards, President and CEO of Chicago Loop Alliance. “While we cannot predict the future, our strategic plans analyzes current trends; forecasts bold future steps; and implements recommendations from various resources. Chicago Loop Alliance has a long history of successfully creating memorable and positive experiences for Loop visitors, workers, and residents through substantial programming; effective administration of social services and community-based initiatives; engaging marketing; and a keen eye on representing the makeup, perspectives, and ideals of all Chicagoans, and we will continue to do so in the future.”

Key findings include:

  • A refined vision and mission for the organization, as well as four new strategic priority areas – Building Confidence in the Loop; Increasing Chicago Loop Alliance’s Profile and Impact; Ensuring Everyone’s Neighborhood; Creating a Complete Urban District
  • Ambitious major moves for the organization to appropriately manage and promote the Loop, including increased revenue streams; enhanced staffing and budget; and significant resources devoted to making the Loop an iconic global destination
  • Substantial emphasis on modifying the business model of Chicago Loop Alliance to meet the needs of the district through a Business Improvement District (BID), which requires state legislation and local government approval
  • A situational assessment of Chicago Loop Alliance compared to other major metros, identifying key areas of focus like safety, return to office, and traditional downtown usage shifts

 

Based on the multiple focus groups, interviews, and stakeholder responses, Chicago Loop Alliance conferred and suggested potential “big ideas” for the next five years across each strategic focus area.

Build Confidence in the Loop

To ensure that the Loop is – and is known as – a vibrant, welcoming, and memorable community, CLA must continue to focus on making the Loop a safe and clean destination; through CLA's consistent stewardship and positive messaging. Catalytic actions include:

  • Enhance safety and security through increased CLA Ambassador staffing
  • Investigate community-based policing efforts in partnership with CPD, social service organizations and CLA Ambassadors
  • Advocate for beautified and safer public way – public art installations honoring State Street’s legacy; visually appealing State Street subway stations

Increase Chicago Loop Alliance’s Profile and Impact

For Chicago Loop Alliance to be the recognized civic leader and effective service provider driving the economic & social health of the Loop, it needs to dramatically expand resources, scope, and geography. This can be accomplished through CLA-led partnerships, proactive relationships with city, county, state and federal governments and strategic communication to punctuate Chicago Loop Alliance's impact. Catalytic actions include:

  • Continue advocating for legislative approval of Loop-wide Business Improvement District (BID) and begin implementation of BID by 2028
  • Investigate increased boundaries of Chicago Loop Alliance to reflect the evolving nature of the Chicago Central area with an eye on improved stakeholder value
  • Expand capacity and focus on research, economic development, and external affairs

Ensure Everyone’s Neighborhood

To attract talent and investment in the Loop, CLA must care for Chicago’s diverse communities, requiring meaningful working partnerships with organizations that represent the interests of traditionally underrepresented groups. This means delivering clearly defined inclusive programs both internal to the CLA organization and external to Loop stakeholders. Catalytic actions include:

  • Intentionally increase individuals from underrepresented communities within CLA’s membership, staff, board of directors, and event participants with a goal to represent Chicago’s city-wide racial demographics
  • Accelerate CLA partnerships in events like Hospitality Hires and Downtown Days that are designed to provide more opportunities for everyone to participate in the Loop
  • Advocate for universal accessibility in all public realm projects in the Loop
  • Tactically address climate change effects on State Street and the Loop, which also disproportionately affect disadvantaged communities

Create a Complete Urban District

To continue to compete, the Loop needs to provide a variety of public spaces, infrastructure and programming that encourages an improved mix of uses and diversity of users through thoughtful planning & development, resulting in more street level investment. Catalytic actions include:

  • Embracing residential growth and ensuring the Loop is a better place to live
  • Elevating the storefront economy and supporting BIPOC entrepreneurs through pop-ups and other program opportunities
  • Reposition and elevate Loop Theatre District as anchor of the Loop and second largest entertainment district outside of NYC’s Broadway/Times Square
  • Create flexible public realm and event spaces along State Street (i.e., curbless street, The Gateway, Pritzker Park) to establish Loop as hub of cultural programming

The full list of catalytic actions in each category can be found here.

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