I traveled with a Minneapolis based economic development company to Chicago to meet with some investor / advisors to explore real estate investments that would include building innovation centers. As a strategist for Cheval Partners, I had put together the primary concept deck that detailed out core services and technology platforms that would be required directly for the center and the overall concept of real estate development that would integrate the innovation center to industry parks, conference centers, education centers, transportation hubs, and lifestyle… etc. The overall discuss positioned the value propositions and long term benefits to the region and the opportunities for integrating with centers around the globe for access to global innovation opportunities. There were many learnings about Chicago political and economic histories and current initiatives and trends. Chicago sits at the cross roads of the nation, but its transportation infrastructure is aging and has been outstripped by population growth. A key challenge for the city is to invest sufficiently in infrastructure and in new forms of multi-model mass transit. His is required both for the continued growth of the city, but also so it doesn’t serve as a transportation bottleneck of east / west transit. The city is also evaluating its future identity in terms of industry. While it remains strong in the financial sector, there is consideration of the reclaiming a lead in manufacturing as the outsource trends slow and become both cost prohibitive and fraught with international issues. Already project are underway developing new manufacturing zoned districts and the Joliet canal system is progressively looking to the future. Chicago has already begun some partnerships with technology vendors like Microsoft & Google to have high tech centers, but larger opportunities still exist to build more industry centric centers to fuel B2B collaboration and start-up acceleration and commercialization.