Innovate NOW! Summit Kicks Off Major Regional Innovation Initiative

Oct 24, 2006, 01:00 ET from Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce

    CHICAGO, Oct. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- A major regional initiative of
 business, labor, academic and government leaders to make the area more
 innovative kicked off Tuesday with the Innovate NOW! Chicagoland Innovation
     Innovate NOW! is a partnership between the Chicagoland Chamber of
 Commerce, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
 (DCEO), Council on Competitiveness and World Business Chicago to advance
 innovation in several key sectors of the economy and to help make the
 Chicagoland region, and eventually the entire state of Illinois, a globally
 recognized center of innovation. The first phase of the initiative is
 focusing on manufacturing and promoting innovation with leading small and
 mid-sized manufacturers in the region.
     More than 450 regional leaders in the greater Chicagoland area, as well
 as national business figures, met at the Illinois Institute of Technology
 to focus on improving innovation in the region. This summit kicks off the
 first of a series of meetings and forums in the next several months to
 promote innovation in the Chicagoland region.
     "Innovation will be critical to ensuring the region's future economic
 prosperity," said Jerry Roper, President and CEO, Chicagoland Chamber of
 Commerce, which has spearheaded the conference. "The summit is a major
 catalyst to get us all working together toward that end."
     "Illinois manufacturers have done a great job of innovating their
 processes, which has made us one of the most productive states in the
 country," said Jack Lavin, Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce
 and Economic Opportunity. "To continue to face the challenges of today's
 global economy head-on, Governor Blagojevich and I believe that we must
 continue to promote innovation in manufacturing with an emphasis on new
 products, business models and markets that will drive sustained economic
 growth and create more Illinois jobs."
     According to a study by the Washington, D.C-based Council on
 Competitiveness, regions that use innovation as the foundation for an
 economic development strategy are more successful and experience higher
 economic performance than others.
     More than 40 major companies and leading business, labor, government
 and academic organizations are sponsoring and participating in the summit,
 including IBM, Microsoft, Crain's Chicago Business, American Airlines, The
 Boeing Company, CDW, Charter One Bank, Mesirow Financial, Motorola, Wm.
 Wrigley Jr. Co., Wal-Mart and Strategic Hotels & Resorts.
     U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman addressed the group in the
 morning session as the first keynote speaker of the Summit. Carl Schramm,
 Ph.D., President and CEO, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation provided the
 Summit's second keynote remarks. The Foundation, which supports
 entrepreneurship and innovation, is the 26th largest in the U.S. with an
 asset base of $2 billion.
     Other speakers included:
     -- John Edwardson, Chairman and CEO, CDW
     -- Ian Foster, Ph.D., Director of the Computation Institute at Argonne
     National Laboratory
     -- Laurence Geller, President and CEO, Strategic Hotels & Resorts
     -- Lawrence J. Keeley, President, Doblin Inc.
     -- Robert McIlvaine, President, The Royal Group
     -- James O'Connor, Jr., Vice President of Technology Incubation and
     Commercialization, Motorola
     -- Robert Rosner, Ph.D., Director, Argonne National Laboratory
     -- James Tyree, Chairman and CEO, Mesirow Financial
     -- Thomas J. Wilson, President and Chief Operating Officer, The Allstate
     -- Deborah Wince-Smith, President, Council on Competitiveness
     -- Robert Zimmer, Ph.D., President, University of Chicago
     The summit is sponsored by the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, World
 Business Chicago and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic
 Opportunity in partnership with the Council on Competitiveness.
     The Innovate NOW! efforts in manufacturing will be expanded to other
 regions of the state through regional meetings and forums. In addition, the
 next phase of this initiative in future years will target other sectors in
 the Chicagoland region in sectors such as financial services and
 transportation and logistics.

SOURCE Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce