Dear Members,

With spring just weeks away, we are starting to see some hopeful signs:

  • 1 in 10 Chicagoans have received their first dose of the vaccine.
  • The city’s positivity rate is at an all-time low – currently 3.1%.
  • COVID-19 restrictions continue to be relaxed, allowing for greater indoor capacity limits and the reopening of museums and other attractions.
  • The Chicago Park District is reopening many of its district facilities and the lakefront beaches and trails have reopened.
  • The Chicago Department of Public Health has advised of a week-to-week timeline for increase vaccine supply from the federal government, which may begin to outpace demand by mid- spring.
  • Chicago Public Schools announced a return to in-person student instruction after successful negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union.

The Association, in turn, will advocate for member businesses at the state and local level. As we prepare to share plans for 2021 at our Annual Meeting, which will be a live streamed event from the Ritz-Carlton Chicago on March 25, please know that our work is well underway.

Of course, there is still much to be done. We need to continue to advocate for capacity limits for our attractions that make sense: they are being limited to 25% capacity while other industries have moved to 40% or more. We need to push for hotels to be able to host weddings and events for 100 people, rather than the limit of 50. And, we need to get our district ready for a safe and steady return of visitors, tourists, and residents.

Here is what we are doing to make sure we can meet the pent-up demand for travel, dining, and wanderlust:

  1. We met with the new Chair of Illinois’ Tourism Committee, our own State Representative Lamont Robinson (5th). We will support him in his new role to push for sensible legislation that keeps Illinois competitive and recognizes the enormous role that the Tourism and Hospitality industry, particularly in our district, plays in the state and regional economy.
  2. We continue to work with the 1st and 18th police districts to ensure The Magnificent Mile is safe and secure. Crime stats are significantly down and we will communicate that message widely.
  3. We are leveraging a Google grant of $100,000 to drive traffic to our consumer- and member-facing websites, guaranteeing that visitors will get positive news about Michigan Avenue, the city of Chicago, and our amazing members.
  4. I serve on two of the city’s four subcommittees focused on center city recovery: Tourism + Culture and Business + Commercial. This work is supported by Bloomberg Advisors, the Chicago Central Area Committee, the Civic Committee, and the Mayor’s Office.
  5. We are exploring options for innovative placemaking and activations along Michigan Avenue to provide visitors and residents with a reason to return. (BTW, have you been to the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit or The FRIENDS™ Experience? They are both a delightful escape from our daily lives.

As always, let me know what we can do to support you and our district. I welcome questions, thoughts, or concerns, and steadfastly believe that together, we will return more magnificent than ever.

Your partner,

Kimberly Bares

President & CEO