Chicago, Illinois, 2019-Dec-16 — /Travel PR News/ — In an ongoing effort to expand opportunity and showcase its diverse workforce needs, the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) hosted its first Concessionaire, Small Business & Vendor Expo yesterday, drawing more than 200 attendees and 75 exhibitors and concessionaires. The event was designed to connect small businesses and entrepreneurs with more established enterprises already operating at Chicago’s airports.
“Events like these are both inspiring and empowering,” CDA Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee said. “Our airports belong to all of Chicago – and to all Chicagoans – and we take great pride in being a place where people can find opportunities to launch or further their careers. From day one, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has prioritized equity and inclusion, and as the major economic engine for the City of Chicago, we are eager to meet that challenge.”
Expo attendees were able to attend workshops and take advantage of networking opportunities. More than 40 small business owners took advantage of the opportunity to make a five-minute “Fast Pitch” presentation of their goods and services to existing concessionaires at both airports, receiving feedback in the process.
Overall, the event had the following objectives:
- to provide an environment that allows local, small businesses interested in operating at the airport as concessionaires to introduce themselves and their concepts to the larger concessions community;
- to encourage networking between the large, prime concessions companies and the smaller, local restaurants and retailers — as well as Airport Concession Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (ACDBE).
- to allow the CDA to better assess the potential pool of ACDBEs for upcoming Requests for Proposals.
- and to provide an opportunity for local, small business vendors to introduce their goods and services that are complimentary to the concessions program to the concessionaires.
The CDA is committed to cultivating and showcasing opportunities at our airports — and those opportunities extend into every corner and every neighborhood of the City.
The O’Hare 21 program is expected to yield tens of thousands of jobs over the next decade – one of the biggest public works projects of our time. Meanwhile, the Midway Modernization Program is underway, totally re-imagining the concessions environment. Already more than 3,200 jobs have been generated at Midway, and concessions opportunities will double when the program concludes.
Over the course of 2019, the CDA hosted four quarterly job fairs that yielded more than 200 direct hires. Four more are already scheduled for 2020 to ensure residents from all 77 Chicago neighborhoods have an opportunity to establish businesses and to seek employment at Chicago’s airports.