Dear Loop Community,
Optimism surrounds the future of the Loop and Chicago. Chicago was recently voted Best Big City in the U.S. by Conde Nast Traveler for an unprecedented sixth year in a row. Time Out named Chicago the #2 best city in the world. Google decided to buy the Thompson Center and call the Loop its newest home, which will attract thousands of employees to the district. In 2023, Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA) will host the 2023 International Downtown Association Conference in Chicago, and NASCAR will race into the Loop for their first street course ever. As Chicago’s fastest-growing neighborhood and the country’s fastest-growing downtown, the Chicago Loop is positioned to be the innovative beacon for industries far and wide. We know there are still mountains to climb, but the Loop is an attractive, innovative, dynamic, and powerful place to be.
2022 was another year marked by the evolution of the traditional depiction of the Loop; continual recovery from the ravages of the past few years; and hope and optimism for the prospects of the future of our beautiful and iconic district. CLA continues to power towards the success of the Loop, while also redefining the downtown as more than what it was pre-pandemic. The past few years cast a spotlight on our downtown’s shortcomings, but more importantly, our strengths and resilience. We saw a gradual (and continuing) shift towards representing more than the city’s office center, but a growing residential community, and a greater focus on the stunning cultural mecca that the Loop has always been. The art and culture sector that were decimated by the pandemic returned in full force in 2022, reviving the dynamic mix in the urban center that was sorely missed; and the restaurant industry strived to make a hearty return. New restaurant openings, popular theatre and cultural attractions, and new retail formats provide excitement for the power of what the Loop can be in the future.
CLA dedicated our support to this revitalization in 2022. To encourage people back to the Loop, we hosted all member events in-person, including our annual meeting, annual gala, and LoopedIn networking events. The CLA network continued to grow with the addition of 50 new members. Our marketing and communications efforts continued to attract more tourists, workers, residents, and urban explorers back to the Loop, while also positively shaping the narrative of the Loop through earned media opportunities and valued data resources.
Our events and placemaking efforts significantly helped reshape the Loop in 2022. With the return of our popular event, ACTIVATE, thousands congregated within the majestic LaSalle corridor at LaSalle and Quincy for a one-night-only spectacular that showcased the lively spirit of Chicago, and served as a case study for the potential transformation of the LaSalle Corridor. And for the second year, we attracted Chicagoans and visitors alike to the Loop for Sundays on State, the award-winning event series that brought art, culture, active recreation, food, drinks, and shopping outdoors to State Street for four Sundays. In an effort to revitalize the severely impacted vacant storefront landscape, CLA launched the State Street Holiday Market, filling a major retail space with over 58 vendors from Chicago; engaging cultural programming; and the festive spirit. Simultaneously, we created LaSalle Aglow, a unique art installation to beautify empty storefronts in the historic area.
In a further examination of our Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility efforts, we aimed to amplify underrepresented voices authentically and intentionally through vendor relationships, as well as effective flag campaigns on State Street for Juneteenth and Pride Month, and in support of Ukrainian Independence Day. The IDEA Committee continued to pinpoint areas for improvement for the Chicago Loop Alliance staff, board and leadership and identified two new partnerships to broaden CLA’s perspective and reach. We continue to work towards exemplifying our moniker as Everyone’s Neighborhood genuinely and purposefully.
All our work this year would not have been possible without our members and partners, both new and long-term. On behalf of our Board of Directors and the State Street Commission, thank you for the support you have shown Chicago Loop Alliance. We envision the Loop as an incredible destination for everyone – from tourists to workers, native Chicagoans to first-time visitors, and those that look to us as a guidepost for the future of downtowns.