Oct. 3, 2012

On the Road with the Mayor

A handful of us BrightTaggers were at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign yesterday for a Chicago After Hours event organized by World Business Chicago. A total of 39 companies road-tripped south to showcase the momentum building within Chicago’s tech community and meet with students from the university’s top-ranked Computer Science and Engineering departments.

I had the opportunity to speak on a panel with Mayor Emanuel, Mike Evans from GrubHub and Brad Keywell of Lightbank. Rob Rutenbar, Head of the Department of Computer Science at University of Illinois, moderated a discussion covering everything from protected bike lanes, committing code to Github, high-speed broadband and hacker culture (including the good work John Tolva is doing as Chicago CTO).

I’ve seen firsthand how local government can make a positive impact on a community. From early conversations we had with the Mayor more than 18 months ago when BrightTag was a much smaller company, he has committed resources and attention to support our bustling tech scene. Having built multiple technology companies here, it’s been fun to see the energy and enthusiasm build not just in our River North neighborhood, but also in the city at large.

When asked whether Chicago is on pace to become the next Silicon Valley, my answer remains, Chicago will be the next Chicago.

Additional coverage of this event can be found in Crain’s Chicago, Chicago Sun-Times and CBS Chicago.