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Mayor Rahm Emanuel was joined by Choose Chicago President and CEO Don Welsh, members of organized labor and Microsoft general manager Julia White today to announce Microsoft Ignite, a new technology conference to take place in Chicago from May 4 through May 8, 2015 at McCormick Place. Approximately 20,000 visitors are expected to attend the convention that could bring in more than $47 million in estimated spending.
“Microsoft Ignite will play an important role in helping us reach our goal of attracting 55 million visitors in Chicago annually by 2020,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This conference is an opportunity to showcase our growing strength in the tech economy and an opportunity to bring more visitors to our city – which means more jobs for people in our neighborhoods and communities.”
Microsoft Ignite is a new, signature event for the company, focused on helping businesses succeed in the new era of mobile and cloud computing. The conference combines five previously separate events and will cover a broad range of important topics for attending technology professionals, including cloud management, big data & analytics, productivity, unified communications, mobile devices and operating systems. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will deliver the keynote address, joined by many of the company’s top executives and engineers.
“Microsoft’s decision to hold this new technology conference in Chicago reinforces Mayor Emanuel’s and the city’s commitment to technology and innovation,” said Choose Chicago President and CEO Don Welsh. “It also reinforces that the labor reforms and service improvements at McCormick Place are working.”
Chicago secured the Microsoft Ignite as a result of a coordinated effort that included the Trade Show Promotion Fund Committee, which was created following the implementation of reforms at McCormick Place in 2011. The Committee is comprised of four representatives from the Carpenters’ Union and four representatives from the Mayor’s office, all of who have worked collaboratively with Choose Chicago to identify opportunities to bring new business to Chicago.
“Over the last couple of years, Labor and the City have come together to boost the tourism and trade show industry by attracting new shows, restoring partnerships with shows that have left, and focusing our attention on creating a one-of-a-kind visitor experience that will bring more conventioneers and tourists to our world-class city,” said Jorge Ramirez, President of the Chicago Federation of Labor. “We have the most skilled workforce in the country, so this is a tremendous opportunity for us to grow our economy and create additional jobs for the hardworking men and women of the Chicago area.”
Microsoft Ignite is the latest event announced in 2014 and will join the James Beard Foundation Awards and the NFL Draft also taking place in Chicago in 2015. In May 2014, Mayor Emanuel and Choose Chicago announced Automechanika Chicago, the leading international automotive trade show, will come to McCormick Place April 24 through April 26, 2015. This further supports the 133,000 jobs and more than $13 billion in spending generated as a result of annual visitation to Chicago.
”Chicago is an ideal setting for Microsoft Ignite,” said Microsoft’s Julia White. “It is accessible to technology professionals from around the world and home to many of our corporate customers. We know the city won’t disappoint when it comes to providing our attendees with great accommodations and entertainment.”
Trade shows and conventions are crucial drivers of Chicago’s tourism industry. When Mayor Emanuel took office in 2011, the City of Chicago had approximately 40 million visitors a year. Three years later there are over 48 million visitors a year. In September 2014, Mayor Emanuel and Choose Chicago announced that that Chicago set multiple tourism records for the summer 2014 travel season and is on pace to achieve Mayor Emanuel’s goal of 55 million visitors a year by the year 2020 and create 30,000 additional jobs.