Dear Members,

There is a light at the end of the tunnel as it relates to the pandemic and associated restrictions. Among the many encouraging signs are, lower infection rates, the rollout of the vaccine, and easing of travel orders and operating restrictions. The move to Tier 1 mitigations is encouraging for our member restaurants, museums, attractions (and more), which are hallmarks of our word-class experience on The Magnificent Mile. We look forward to the positive impact an uptick in hospitality could have on the district and are hopeful that we can attract more guests from the region under the revised Emergency Travel Order.

As the Mayor and health officials have said time and again, the metaphor for safely re-opening is more akin to adjusting our lights with a dimmer switch, not an “on – off” switch. Businesses in our district, including the Association, are still feeling the impacts of painful but necessary adjustments to our operations based on the abrupt way the “off switch was flipped” in response to the pandemic.

As we ramp up to a “new normal’ and navigate through the necessary steps, the Association will continue be your partner advocating, raising awareness, and driving engagement. Ultimately, we look forward to welcoming back the workforce, visitors, and area residents to enjoy the many treasures inherent in our district.

We shine brighter together when we stay connected and collaborate. Please be sure to complete our Opening Survey so we can best promote and support your business!

We are confident that we can produce a parade for the 30th anniversary of the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival following the move to Phase 5; and we are optimistic for an uptick in tourism this summer season. In the meantime, of course, we must capitalize on pent up demand and create a reason for folks to leave home and return to our great city.

We must focus on unique experiences along our grand boulevard, including programming vacant spaces to surprise and delight passersby, and attract new tenants and popular brands. The Association’s Arts & Experiences committee is hard at work to make a splash, including partnerships with prominent Chicago artists and cultural institutions. Our goal is positive press to widely influence perception and coincide with a return to regional, and even national (air), travel.

Of course, no special experience or event series can completely alleviate safety concerns to travel downtown. While most crime stats are down year-over-year, and targeted arrests are up, including an increase in the seizure of firearms, there has been a spike in car jackings city-wide.

We are actively planning to secure the district via private stakeholders, while coordinating with the Chicago Police Department on new protocols, including their robust downtown daily deployment and the Central Control Group, which is comprised of the 001st and 018th police districts along with the newly formed Critical Incident Response Team. We also appreciate the support of the Mayor’s office and area aldermen, Ald. Hopkins (2nd Ward) and Ald. Reilly (42nd Ward) with whom we have regular discussions and safety briefings.

I look forward to sharing more of our plans for 2021 – first and foremost, how we safely and successfully return to business – at the Association’s Annual Meeting.  We look forward to welcoming you virtually to the Ritz-Carlton Chicago on Thursday, March 25. Look out for registration and program details.

In the meantime, do not hesitate to reach out with any questions, thoughts, or concerns in the new year.

Your partner,

Rich Gamble

Chair of the Board of Director