Director of Economic Development
Can you describe your work and how your planning degree contributes to it?
I work for Chicago’s public-private non-profit economic development agency, World Business Chicago. My focus is on business attraction and retention, and I’m working with companies across all industries to bring jobs to Chicago. I collaborate with the City, County, and State to put Chicago’s best foot forward when we’re competing with other locations for a project -- whether it’s a corporate HQ, manufacturing plant, a growing tech company, a brewery, a film studio, and everything in between! I rely on my MUPP degree and economic development specialization every single day. This degree has provided a basis for knowledge and understanding of regional economies while I put together comprehensive comparative analyses and business pitches based on a particular company’s industry, outlining our economic strengths across a variety of metrics.
What do you like most about your current job or related work in planning?
I love the fact that every day is different and I’m working across such a variety of industries. I may be walking a south side industrial site in the morning with a manufacturing prospect, and then in the afternoon meeting with a tech company CEO as we walk past ping pong tables talking about expansion plans. Chicago has so many strengths and I love to make the business case and show off how great our city is, particularly to companies or executives that may not be as familiar. Each project may require a different set of planning skills ranging from zoning and land use to incentives to economic/industry analyses to community development.
What advice do you wish you had gotten as a MUPP or, conversely, what advice would you give to young planners today?
I found it very helpful to begin my planning career working for a few years in the public sector. While I was with the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, I gained a great and comprehensive understanding of all of the legislative processes for zoning and planned developments, landmarks, the community development commission and much more. I had an opportunity to work closely with stakeholders on all sides of a proposed project: community groups, elected officials, sister agencies and more. It’s a great way to learn the nuts and bolts of the profession, who the actual stakeholders are, and how to actually get things done.