Dear Members,

One million twinkling lights along The Magnificent Mile are making a positive impact, even from miles away. The 29th annual BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival TV special on ABC and affiliate markets syndicates to 95% of markets from coast to coast – and in Canada – this holiday season, showcasing the best of Chicago. Meanwhile, positive consumer sentiment has returned, more ebullient than ever, and we reached a record 1M+ Facebook users in November, including our most-liked post ever.

The Association announced a new holiday tradition for the Lights Festival this year, featuring festive window displays from 15 cultural and community partners in storefronts available for lease along North Michigan Avenue. Building together with our partner, BMO Harris Bank, and their leadership in the Invest South/West initiative, this seemed like the perfect time to find new ways to connect downtown with Chicago’s communities of color and together offer an abundance of holiday cheer.

While we have created a hopeful spectacle for millions, uncertainty lingers as we head into the winter. We will again need to find creative and safe ways to carry the momentum of a bright but unusual holiday season through the latest stay-at-home advisory and statewide mitigations.

Bringing the district back to magnificence is of paramount importance. We must work to restore the image of Michigan Avenue as a safe, welcoming, and vibrant destination for residents, visitors, and tourists. We must prioritize infrastructure investments, transit improvements, business recruitment and retention, consumer marketing, and the return of our workforce.

One way to address those issues is through our fantastic Arts and Experiences Committee, which is focused on planning a public art installation to honor the centennial of the DuSable Bridge and our city’s founder. The committee is also exploring ways in which we can activate the street safely, showing off Chicago’s great artistic talent, and providing delightful experiences for those in our district.

We have also proposed the creation of a Special Service Area (SSA) as an interim economic development tool to address present and persistent challenges. The SSA is by no means a “quick fix:” it would have a term of just three years and allow us an opportunity to develop new legislation in Springfield to create a Business Improvement District, which is a tool used around the world for supporting and improving commercial districts.

And last, but certainly not least, we will amplify the work you are doing to promote your business and all that our city has to offer. Our association represents the best of Chicago and we know that across the world, there are scores of people who can’t wait to come experience the magnificence of Chicago.

I wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season – and for all of us, swift passage to an effective vaccine and a safe return to business!

Your partner,

Kimberly Bares

President & CEO