This year, a small but mighty staff moved mountains for The Magnificent Mile Association. Change is inevitable, and teams turn over. Nevertheless, I knew I could count on our leadership to support the staff and see us through a time of transition. I’d like to thank board members including Holly Agra, the Chair of the Administration Committee; Lee Golub, Rick Simon, Grant DePorter, Lori Olson, Mary Ann Rose, Donovan Pepper, Rob Christie, Donna Pugh, Pat Donnelly and Stan Nitzberg, who led our Executive Search Committee; Dan Russell, the Treasurer of the Association; and many more. Cheers to the holiday season and the good fortune that is to come in 2020. We are on the edge of greatness!
In the Spring, the team of eight welcomed close to 1,000 guests for the Annual Gala that ticked all boxes, including fundraising nearly $20,000 for The Magnificent Mile Charitable Foundation. In the Fall, with our new President and CEO, Kimberly Bares, at the helm, we produced a sold-out luncheon with keynote speaker Roz Brewer, Chief Operating Officer for Starbucks, just weeks before Starbucks opened the world’s largest Roastery on The Magnificent Mile. We were fortunate to have the new Deputy Mayor, Samir Mayekar, address our membership at the luncheon and pledge his support for The Magnificent Mile.
Just last month, our staff inspired a committee of 50 lead volunteers who coordinated hundreds more to produce two days of free family-friendly events, including the third largest parade in the country. One million visitors came downtown on Saturday to enjoy a twenty-eight-year holiday tradition at The BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. This year, we welcomed Lieutenant Governor of Illinois, Juliana Stratton, to march with our Legacy of Leaders. Juliana proudly proclaimed that the Lights Festival is “the best way to kick off the holiday season in Chicago,” and I couldn’t agree more.
January 1, 2020 begins the sale of recreational cannabis in Illinois. In the Fall, The Magnificent Mile Association was the only downtown business group to address the Zoning Committee in response to Mayor Lightfoot’s exclusionary zone for dispensaries. Days later, the zone was amended, which was a big win for our partners in tourism and hospitality.
We are more relevant than ever. A record 16.5B media impressions totaling $21M in publicity value for mentions of “The Magnificent Mile” indicates that we are increasingly at the center of conversation. In 2020, we will lead the City of Chicago in a centennial celebration of the DuSable Bridge (formerly Michigan Avenue Bridge), which was a major reason for the formation of The Magnificent Mile Association.
I thank you for your continued support, and I cannot wait for what is to come in the new year.
Rich Gamble, Chairman of the Board