Emanuel wants Chicago to be 'digital mecca' of Midwest

July 30, 2012

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said last week that he wants to focus on bringing more tech companies to the city. But analysts say he’s got a tough task ahead.

Emanuel called Motorola Mobility’s recent announcement that it’s moving from the suburbs to the Merchandise Mart a “game changer.”

"I think it will help us fulfill the goal of making Chicago the digital mecca of the Midwest," he told radio reporters.

Grady Burkett, who follows the tech industry for Morningstar, said that mecca bit is going to be tough to achieve. He said it’s not like Chicago or the Midwest has a reputation for its technology companies, especially when compared to the West Coast.

"They’ve got such a deep culture and environment for attracting engineering talent and building the types of companies that attract investors and you create this virtual cycle that is very difficult to draw away from," he said.

But Grady said it doesn’t take much infrastructure to start up a tech company nowadays. Combine that with Chicago’s proximity to universities, and the city can be attractive to young engineers looking to get their start in a range of technology fields.