By Michael Alter
I was having breakfast the other day with Patrick Reedy, executive director of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation’s Illinois Chapter (full disclosure: I’m a board member, and it’s a great organization for a great cause), and he handed me the sponsorship packet for the annual walk fundraiser. He said he always wants the board members to have the sponsorship benefits/pitch at their fingertips because you never know when you will be in a position to use it. As an entrepreneur, I had to smile, as selling is always Job No. 1. How refreshing to get a reminder in Sales 101 from a nonprofit executive. (No wonder Patrick is one of the best.)
Our conversation made me realize that if you care about the Chicago business community, you should also have a pitch ready at all times — not just one for your own company, but one that encourages people to set up shop here in the Chicago area. It doesn’t have to be written down, but it should be in your head.
There are countless reasons why this is a great city with excellent surrounding suburbs and it’s also a great place to be an entrepreneur. We want it to continue to grow and, to do that, we should promote it together, wherever we go.
Here are five of the most important reasons to invest in Chicago that should be in your “Chicago Business Fundraiser” packet:
1. An educated workforce: With top-notch universities almost everywhere you go in the state, there is a built-in workforce of highly skilled and educated workers to choose from when hiring.
2. The Midwest work ethic: Here in the Midwest, we don’t get caught up in the hype, we just get the job done. We’re modest and dedicated, and care about doing the best we can in our positions.
3. Infrastructure: Chicago is a transportation and technology hub. We have two major airports, a massive public transportation system, and an ability to live and work in a wide range of places.
4. A world-class city: Living here, we all know Chicago is a great place to live. Culture, sports, food, a beautiful lakefront and skyline — we have it all. No offense to our wonderful neighboring states, but there’s just not as much to do there. And we’re less expensive than New York or L.A., while offering many of the same attractions.
5. This is a vibrant entrepreneurial community: Chicago is home to many growing, innovative companies. At Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, we have two of the best business schools in the country. Plus, there is a great deal of support from organizations such as Built In Chicago, which works to promote and connect digital Chicago. According to the organization, 128 digital startups launched in Chicago in 2011, a 56 percent increase over 2010. As a result of this and other factors, we have a number of innovative digital companies that are finding new and better ways of doing business.
Those are just some of the best reasons why Chicago is a great place to do business. I’m sure you can think of more and we would love for you to comment and tell us what they are. When you think of them, add them to this list and share the news with others, because if Chicago continues to thrive in business, we can all grow together.
Michael Alter is president and CEO of SurePayroll, a small-business payroll services company based in Glenview.
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