From the President’s Desk: Not So Small

Small Business means big business for Chicagoland. To start with, the category includes businesses with as many as 500 employees. That’s a sizable payroll. Most impressive, though, is the combined footprint small businesses have. They comprise 99% of all businesses. They employ 46% of Illinois’ private sector workforce. 2.4 million Illinoisans work for a small business.

Each small business is a potential partner. They’re our clients. They’re our vendors. They’re a business development opportunity. On a macro level, their innovation attracts talented workers to the region.

All this is to say: Small Business is important to all of us. And it’s why I want to let you know about two upcoming Chamber initiatives. On Wednesday, January 24th we are hosting a networking and data reception, The State of Small Business, at which we will unveil the results of our 2018 Small Business Outlook Survey. The Chamber, in partnership with Loyola University Quinlan School of Business, publishes this research at the start of each year. The data provides a current snapshot and a glimpse into the future of small businesses; their perceptions, plans and what help they’ll need in order to execute. It uncovers specific opportunities for supporting and working with small businesses.

The State of Small Business is for firms of all sizes to gain insights and connect with one another. More details and registration are here. We thank Wintrust, the Exclusive Corporate Sponsor of the survey, for its investment in small businesses and the Chicagoland economy.

Our other upcoming Small Business-related initiative delivers a $50,000 cash infusion. In the coming weeks, we will open applications for this year’s James Tyree Emerging Business Leadership Award. The Chamber gives the Tyree Award annually (the announcement of last year’s winner is here) to a small business that exhibits strong growth and philanthropic values. If you know an emerging entrepreneur doing great work and having success at it, tell her or him to be ready to apply.

Mesirow Financial and CIBC provide the Tyree Award’s cash prize to help the winning business grow even stronger. They are two great examples of businesses of all sizes seeing the vital importance of Small Business. The Chicago business community is an ecosystem. Each part of it helps the other parts thrive.

I am now in my second month on the job at the Chamber, and I still have many people to meet. Please always feel free to directly reach out to me. My email is My phone number is 312.494.6776.

I will also be at these upcoming Chamber events, including The State of Small Business. If possible, please come say hello.

Best Regards,

Jack Lavin

President & CEO

Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce