The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce hosted The Exchange 2024 presented by Southwest Airlines on Tuesday, April 16. This year’s annual signature showcase convened Chicago’s diverse business community at historic Soldier Field.

The Exchange is the Chamber’s largest networking event of the year, with over 800 local professionals representing a diverse cross-section of businesses, including small, midsize, and enterprise companies from Chicago’s major industries.

The day kicked off with guests venturing to a Networking Reception hosted by 8 Hospitality, which included a walk through the 100-level concourse and sunny view of the stadium’s beautiful grass field. Attendees enjoyed beverages provided by Molson Coors, Glunz Family Winery, and Liquid Death while they chatted.

The excitement from the reception spilled into a keynote presentation hosted by Microsoft titled More Impact, Less Effort: Transforming Business with Microsoft Copilot. The presentation began with short welcomes from Chicagoland Chamber President and CEO Jack Lavin and Southwest Airlines Chief Sales Officer Dave Harvey.

Microsoft representative Kree Govender demonstrated the capabilities of Microsoft Copilot and outlined practical steps that companies can take to integrate Microsoft Copilot into their business processes. Then a panel including Microsoft’s Melissa Lynn, Erika Smith, and Nisaini Rexach discussed how local small business Once Upon an RFP — and its founder Caryn Kent Dean — use the AI and Digital Maturity Compass to produce customized reports with actionable insights to increase revenues, reduce costs, foster team and client engagement, and drive informed decisions.

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Following the keynote presentation, guests returned back to the main showcase as a drizzle rolled over the field. Within moments, the showcase floor buzzed with conversation as more than 100 exhibitors displayed a variety of colorful swag, business cards, and friendly smiles. Guests also explored the Culinary Showcase presented by Uber, which featured samples and giveaways from 25 local restaurants and bars.

There were also many unique showcases throughout the space, including the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, which was designed to help entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunity by providing access to education, capital, and business support services. NASCAR Chicago Street Race was in attendance promoting the street race’s return to Grant Park on July 6-7, including a festival line-up featuring Keith Urban, The Black Keys, The Chainsmokers.

Around 6 p.m., pre-registered attendees commenced the first-ever speed networking session in the history of The Exchange. Speed Networking by LinkedIn offered a structured platform for participants to expand their professional network and cultivate meaningful connections in a dynamic environment. Through a rotational format, attendees engaged in brief, elevator pitch-driven conversations, exchanging insights, contact information, and fostering diverse connections, ultimately paving the way for continued engagement and collaboration beyond the event.

The event concluded with a drawing for round-trip tickets provided by Southwest Airlines and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

The Exchange 2024 set an attendance record for a second consecutive year, and the event was made possible by a generous mix of sponsors, partners, exhibitors, and attendees. The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce looks forward to continuing its support and promotion of Chicagoland’s dynamic business community.

Check out the full album of pictures from The Exchange 2024!

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