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 Summit. 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 Corporation -- 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