For those looking for the excitement of the big city with Mid-Western charm, Chicago is where you want to be. The third largest populated city, just behind Los Angeles and New York in size and presence, claims home to 29 Fortune 500 companies.
Chicago is famous for pizza, comedy, a lot of wind and most recently its presence in technology. Following the recession, Chicago was the third fastest growing job market for the technology sector. Each year The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign outputs hundreds of engineers and computer scientists, ranked as the 6th best engineering program in the country, according to the U.S. News & World Report. This local college offers companies a convenient pool of applicants.
A big plus for technology job seekers looking to make a move to Chicago is the cost of living. Chicago is more affordable than its main competitors, New York and San Francisco.
River North has quickly become the nexus of tech startups in Chicago. Yelp, only two years ago, had a satellite office in this area with only a handful of employees. Now, this division of the San Francisco-based review company employs over 300 and plans to add on more space to its 50,000 square foot office.
Motorola Solutions recently moved its headquarters from the suburbs of Illinois to downtown Chicago.
Braintree, a subsidiary of PayPal, is located in River North and has tripled their size in the last four years.
Publishing and printing are a big presence in the Windy City as well. The Tribune Media Company is a multi-media corporation located in Chicago and is the parent company to several subsidiaries. Here's a look at properties The Tribune Publishing Company owns:
- The Chicago Tribune
- Los Angeles Times
- Orlando Sentinel
- The Baltimore Sun
- The Morning Call
- Hartford Courant
- The San Diego Union-Tribune
The Tribune Media Company owns 39 television stations across the country. Locally in Chicago, the Tribune Media Company owns WGN America, Chicagoland Television (CLTV) and the radio station WGN.
Chicago has a long history of hosting pioneering visionaries in the world of advertising and media. In 1898, Albert Lasker, considered the father of modern advertising, got his first gig at Lord & Thomas, which would later become Foote, Cone and Belding. The industry has a storied narrative since the turn of the century, providing the stomping grounds for such firms as Leo Burnett, who birthed the legendary icon Marlboro Man and the widely loved Pillsbury Doughboy.
Like the rest of entertainment, advertising has adapted to the growing demands for content in a variety of digital platforms. What once dominated advertising conference rooms: artfully designed images with cleverly crafted taglines are now computer screens outlining user experience and branded content. Chicago has jumped on the opportunity to stay ahead of the curve. The Windy City is home to over 600 agencies ranging from traditional advertising firms with digital divisions to experiential marketing companies. Here is a snapshot of firms in various sub-genres of the advertising sector, you might find yourself working for in Chicago:
- DDB, whose North American CEO Wendy Clark was just named on the 2016 "Executives to Watch" by Ad Age
- Ogilvy, labeled the most effective agency in the world according to Effie Worldwide
- Plan B, which offers an alternative to the big agency approach
- A5 Branding, committed to helping brand clients who believe in sustainable and green corporate practices
- BatesMeron, which prides itself on its brand research
- Cre8, a growing presence in the UX sector
- Straight North which focuses on B2B marketing
- Resolution Media, one of the largest performance marketing agencies in the world
- Mabbly, lauded in Fast Company for demystifying the PR world in the internet age
- Cramer-Kasselt (C-K) the second largest independent agency in the U.S.
Film and television is a developing sector to the Chicago area. Like so many states ahead of the curve, Illinois has jumped onto the tax incentive bandwagon and provided an allure to production companies that resulted in $330 million of film and television work in 2015. Last year, 291 projects shot in the state of Illinois, predominantly in Chicago, according to Chicago Business.
This year 10 scripted series will be filmed in Chicago, including a new thriller series starring Geena Davis called The Exorcist.
Dick Wolfe has made the city home for his growing Chicago-based procedurals, Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., and Chicago Med. He may be adding Chicago Law to his NBC arsenal, a series that would also shoot in Chicago. A new Fox cop drama by David Slack, A.P.B., will also be shooting in the Windy City.
Fox's television superstar Empire shoots at the West Side Cinespace Complex, which has begun to attract more and more production talent.
Netflix shoots their Sci-Fi series Sense8, created by director-writer-siblings Lana and Andy Wachowski (The Matrix,) in Chicago. Sense8's second season premiered at the end of 2015.
More and more films are being shot on location here as filmmakers take advantage of the 30 percent tax rebate. Recently MovieMaker Magazine named Chicago the sixth-best city in the country to shoot in.
A recent example is Chi-Raq which Spike Lee shot in West Town, Chicago last year.
So if you're looking for a bustling city that's not quite as intense as New York, as expensive as San Francisco, or as sprawling as Los Angeles, Chicago may be the answer. And finding a job in entertainment to keep you there is more likely than it once was.
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