Hundreds of Chicago’s business leaders packed the Chicago Hilton’s International Ballroom on Tuesday, June 4, to attend the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce’s 120th Annual Meeting and hear rousing speeches by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, and Chicago Bears President Kevin Warren.

Kevin Cassidy, outgoing Chair of the Chamber’s Board of Directors, officially opened the meeting – which was presented by AT&T — then introduced Governor JB Pritzker. The governor detailed his administration’s accomplishments and noted that Illinois’ economy is now the fifth-largest economy in the United States. “If we were an independent country, we would be the 18th largest economy in the world and a member of the G20,” he said.

Pritzker said one reason for this success has been the emphasis on new, innovative industries, such as EVs and quantum technologies.

“I’m putting just as much effort into industries that can supercharge growth for Chicago and for all of Illinois,” Pritzker said. “And I want Illinois to be the national hub for the new quantum economy… We’re now planning the creation of a quantum campus here for startups, for established quantum players, and for federal and private research institutions.”

Pritzker concluded by singling out the Chamber and noting that Illinois’ future depends on collaboration and a common mission of economic empowerment. “I want to thank the Chamber for helping us all work together and to all of you for being here today and for being willing partners in the economic revitalization of Illinois — I can’t wait to see where we go next,” he said.

Johnson highlights housing and economic development projects

Eileen Mitchell with AT&T then spoke and was followed by Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, who began by discussing his $1.25 billion plan to fund critical affordable housing and economic development projects, which the Chamber supported.

“We can boost development all throughout our city, and it is crucial in our work to equitably invest in our neighborhoods and reverse Chicago’s historic trend of neighborhood disinvestment,” Johnson said. “We will see these bond proceeds flourish across Chicago and especially in our South and West Side neighborhoods to create union jobs and economic opportunities to grow our local economy and share the prosperity across this city.”

Chamber President and CEO Jack Lavin then took the stage to introduce outgoing Board Chair Kevin Cassidy, who handed off the ceremonial gavel to new Board Chair Dan Lynch.

Lavin: Pro-Growth Agenda Is the Way Forward

After lunch, Lavin gave his President’s Report and emphasized the importance of an economy that can grow without being encumbered by burdensome regulations.

“We firmly believe the way forward for all of Chicagoland is through economic, workforce, and innovation policies that attract investment and new jobs across our city and state,” Lavin said. “In the business community, we understand government isn’t free… but businesses aren’t an ATM either. We can’t put an undue tax and regulatory burden on the business community if we want to grow our economy and move Chicago forward.”

Lavin listed several ways the Chamber has worked to improve the economy and help businesses, including creating a Workforce and Talent Council and a Women’s Business Council, advocating for reforms to BIPA, and working to pass legislation to boost quantum research. The Chamber also secured an extension on the current R&D tax credit while helping to pass game-changing carbon capture legislation.

“The Chamber will continue to work with all of you and boldly move forward with our pro-growth agenda, and we will continue to fight those who have a tax and regulatory agenda that is not transparent and accountable,” Lavin said. “We will continue to reject this narrative that business does not pay their fair share, because business has always led our economic growth and built the global city that we are today.”

Warren Lists Benefits of New Stadium

Lastly, Chicago Bears President and CEO Kevin Warren gave an impassioned keynote speech and spoke about the state of the team, both on and off the field. He began by detailing the team’s many offseason moves, including the selection of heralded quarterback Caleb Williams, then pivoted to a discussion about the team’s proposed stadium on the city’s lakefront Museum Campus.

Warren pointed out that 93 of the most-watched top 100 TV broadcasts in 2023 were NFL games. “This is the power of the NFL, and this is why I’m so strong about building a new stadium,” Warren said. He continued:

“Every time that we play on television here, the entire world is looking at Chicago. They’re looking at our people, they’re looking at our businesses, they’re looking at how we work together. They’re making determinations and decisions that this is a place that they should travel to, that they should move their business to, that they should go work, they should relocate. So we have a unique time here with the Chicago Bears to not only build a great football team, to build a great organization, but to build a world-class stadium that will only empower everyone in this room.”


Since its beginnings as the Chicago Commercial Association and Industry in 1904, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce has worked tiredlessly to deliver value for its members and the region’s economic prosperity by fostering connections, advocating for reform, and developing critical thought leadership, making Chicagoland a world-class place to live and work.

Get involved by checking out the full list of upcoming Chamber events!