Made in Chicago. Embodying that theme, some of the top innovators in Chicago’s food and beverage industry discussed how they built businesses from the ground up and sustained success in this highly competitive field in front a packed house during the Made in Chicago keynote at The Exchange 2015 on April 15 at the Hilton Chicago.

Serving on the keynote panel were Bob Jensen, Co-Founder and Owner of Argus Brewery; R.J. Melman, Managing Partner for several Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (LEYE) restaurants; Marc Schulman, President of Eli's Cheesecake; and Alejandro Silva, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Evans Food Group Ltd. John Carpenter, Reporter for the Chicago Tribune’s Blue Sky Innovation, moderated the panel.

Blue Sky Innovation broke down the topics discussed in this article, including the need to adapt and expand, technology and social media, and the power of failure.

After the keynote, the trade show floor in the Hilton Chicago's Grand Ballroom filled up with Chamber member exhibitors and attendees networking, sampling tasty dishes, and enjoying craft beers courtesy of Argus Brewery.

Congratulations to Paul Krantz, PNC Business Credit, who won the mobile passport raffle grand prize of round-trip Southwest Airlines tickets.

The Exchange 2015: Member Testimonials

“Since joining the Chicago Chamber in 2015, the Chicago Sky's membership had already achieved its networking and outreach goals within the first 90 days through the great activities and events we participated in. A highlight was The Exchange, where our team saw not only great Keynote presentations, but generated more networking and future leads than most events we attend.” 

Jim Burda, VP of Marketing Partnerships, Chicago Sky

“I was very pleased to attended The Exchange 2015. The Chamber of Commerce created an experience that was very well organized, energetic and fun! I enjoyed the panel of experts, especially because they were all leaders in the Food and Beverage industry. The Trade Show booths were appropriately mapped out and made it convenient to speak with the various vendors and other members. The professionalism was felt all around and made for quality business exchanges. Looking forward to next year!”

Elizabeth Weldon, MicroTek

Being an active salesperson in the Chicagoland community, I have had the opportunity to exhibit and attend many trade shows and conventions. One of the best is the “The Exchange.” It's a wonderful opportunity for businesses to present their products and services to a qualified group of buyers who are eager to be educated on your business. I most recently exhibited at the 2015 Exchange and was afforded the opportunity to meet with and to begin developing relationships with prospective clients. The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce team organizes a brilliant event that not includes this opportunity to showcase, but also incorporates topical and relevant speakers. I highly recommend investing not only in membership, but also participating in this fantastic opportunity. 

John D. Drabik, General Manager, AlliedPRA Chicago