Q & A: Deputy Mayor Steven Koch
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|Deputy Mayor Steven Koch—who joined the Mayor’s economic team on Sept. 4 after 27 years as an investment banker at Credit Suisse—is helping to make Chicago more inviting to business and an even more dynamic regional growth engine. Hear his ideas at Bisnow’s fourth annual Chicago State of the Market on Oct. 4 at the Palmer House Hilton. It’s the perfect kick-off to celebrate Steven’s one month anniversary on the job—register here!|
Bisnow: What kinds of businesses does the city most want to attract—office, industrial, or retail space users?
Steven: It's important for Chicago that our economy remains diverse and innovative to best position the city to create jobs, grow, and spur innovation. We’re attracting businesses, big and small, from all different sectors of the economy. What we really want is to build an environment where businesses can expand and evolve.
Bisnow: How does your background in investment banking help in your new role of attracting businesses to Chicago?
Steven: Understanding what climates help businesses achieve success is an important skill for both roles. I have worked with all kinds of businesses in my career, and I have a good idea of what they are looking for. I’m hopeful that in this new role I can help them realize they have a partner in Chicago.
Bisnow: Briefly describe the city's efforts to attract the kinds of businesses that it wants. (Chicago certainly scored when Google agreed to take 572k SF for Motorola Mobility at the Merchandise Mart this summer.)Steven: First, we work to create an environment with great infrastructure, great talent, great quality of life—all of these factors really help us attract businesses. Second, we have slashed our red tape—it is much easier to start a business. The head tax has been cut in half. Third, and most importantly, since he’s taken office, Mayor Emanuel has stood with more than 35 companies and announced more than 20,000 jobs coming to Chicago. That sort of publicity, excitement, and confidence is the best incentive you can find.
Bisnow: What city policies encourage retention of existing Chicago businesses or their expansion?
Steven: Businesses know that being in Chicago is a huge strategic advantage. Our infrastructure is great, and we are improving it with a $7B comprehensive program [announced last spring that aims to create 30,000 jobs]. Our talent is second to none, yet the Mayor is actively recruiting to Chicago the best and brightest from the entire Midwest. Our job is to take our advantages and make them even stronger.
Bisnow: How deeply are you involved in these efforts? Do you ever meet with businesses that may possibly relocate?Steven: I’m very involved in these efforts. I will be working directly with companies, helping to develop innovative programs, and supporting the Mayor as he makes this city the best environment for business in the United States. I will be working every day to bring new jobs and new businesses to Chicago.