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Chicago tries to attract tech talent through Lollapalooza

A technology and music festival partnership is something the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas has been doing for awhile. Now, Chicago’s giving it a try, but with a direct focus on students.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is extending the ThinkChicago:Ideas Week program and pairing it with Lollapalooza, the three day music festival in Grant Park. One hundred passes will be offered to top technology and computer science students from around the country.

Kristin Barrett is vice president of the digital start-up center, 1871. The West Coast is often the destination of choice for students looking for tech jobs. Barrett said this year’s Lollapalooza will be an opportunity for the city to herald itself as a tech destination.

“You see amazing talent that might want to live in a more affordable place like Chicago. So I think you see a lot of different factors that might play into attracting students, but also coming and seeing what a livable and enjoyable city Chicago is has a really great impact of people’s likelihood to move here,” she said.

The program will include panel discussions, technology presentations and a job fair. Students have until the end of May to apply for spot.

While the program isn’t open to the public, city officials say it could be something in the works for later festivals.

Susie An is WBEZ’s interim business reporter. Follow her @soosieon.

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