Left to right: John Roa, CEO, ÄKTA; Shelley Stern Grach, Director, Civic Engagement, Microsoft; Theresa E. Mintle, President & CEO, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce; Lou Longo, Partner, Plante Moran Global Services; and Jim Kane, CEO, Kane and Co.

Before answering one of multiple questions about tax reform at the Illinois CPA Society Midwest Accounting and Finance Showcase on August 28, Jim Kane, CEO of Kane & Co., looked around at the 900 or so attendees in the room. As a career tax specialist, he couldn’t have felt more at home surrounded by accountants.

“Man, I love you guys!” he said.

The feeling appeared to be mutual. The keynote speech and panel themed “Top Ten Trends for a Successful Illinois: Looking Forward to 2015” was dynamic and kept the audience engaged throughout, culminating in several questions from the audience on the topics of fiscal policy, STEM education, exports and more.

Theresa E. Mintle, President and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, served as the keynote speaker and moderated the panel discussion. Joining Jim as panelists for the discussion were Lou Longo, Partner, Plante Moran Global Services; John Roa, CEO, ÄKTA; and Shelley Stern Grach, Director, Civic Engagement, Microsoft.

“This discussion is important to everybody in this room, regardless what industry you’re in or the size of your company, because we all have something at stake,” said Mintle. “This is an election year, and the trends we are talking about today will affect our businesses and our lives for years to come.”

Mintle and the panelists discussed the following trends and their impact on the state’s economy:

1. Small businesses are the economy
2. STEM defines job potential
3. Technology – more than just a Silicon Prairie
4. Broad acceptance of sustainability 
5. Life sciences as anchor institutions 
6. Digital manufacturing drives the comeback
7. Direct foreign investment presents opportunity 
8. Exports are where the growth is
9. Demand for fiscal reform
10. Creating momentum through innovation

The Illinois CPA Society, a member of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, hosts the Midwest Accounting & Finance Showcase annually to feature the latest information relevant to today's accounting and finance professionals.

Click here to view photos from the event.