In my reporter's notebook this week is a very special opportunity you should know about, especially if you're a college junior or senior or if you know somebody who is.
The mayor talked about what's become ThinkChicago back during his campaign and launched it last year. Last week, he talked about how it's going to expand this year.
Young people who apply by Sept 7 may be able to participate in an extraordinary few days of seminars and meet-and-greets at some of the city's most innovative and exciting businesses: including Groupon, Grubhub, Accenture, 37 Signals, Excelerate Labs, Threadless, Coudal Partners, Google, Microsoft and Classified Ventures. Some founders and top execs of those companies will be on hand to answer questions and talk about why they chose to work in Chicago.
One hundred college students from Illinois and five of our neighboring Midwestern states will be chosen. It'll be part of Chicago Ideas Week, Oct. 8-14 this year. The young participants will also get a guided glimpse of Chicago's cultural and nightlife scene. The mayor hopes these best and brightest will be persuaded to bring their talents to town after they graduate.
Neil Gupta was one of last year's participants. A native of Silicon Valley, he had expected move back there after he graduated this spring. Instead, he's staying and starting a company here.
"Programs like ThinkChicago are encouraging more students to stay and build in Chicago. We have a high density of amazing universities and students here, who just needed to be fostered to innovate and build the next big thing," Gupta said.
Chicago badly needs a next big thing. Over the last 150 years, we've done transportation in the form of rail, waterways and airplanes; manufacturing innovative agricultural implements and others; and we've created new financial instruments and markets. But if we're going to remain a world-class city and grow, we need people like Neil Gupta to invent the McCormick Reaper of the 21st Century.
Good luck and God Bless.