Chicago skyline at sunrise.


Chicago is a bustling hub of all things innovation, but I guess that’s really nothing new. The city has long been a titan of industry, and its ideal of working towards progress has never really stopped. Today, the city is working harder than ever to be at the forefront of innovation across all industries. Chicago is home to a bustling network of jobs that span across multiple sectors in the workforce.


Which industries are growing faster than others? We’ve scoured the streets of the Windy City to find the sectors that look most promising as we begin the new year. Stick around for the breakdown of the fastest growing industries in Chicago, Illinois. 


Tech + Chicago = Innovation


Strings of lights.

Chicago is a major hub of technical innovation! 


Before we dive into the details of Chicago’s most prosperous industries, let’s take a look at the city as a whole. Particularly, we should look at how tech has influenced the city’s growth. 


The world of tech has caused much industry disruption and innovation across many cities in the U.S: Chicago is no exception. Chicago is a significant player in corporate IT technology. This involvement dates back to one of Chicago’s staple corporate companies, Walgreens. In 1981, Walgreens had an ambitious idea. They wanted to sync all customer ordering and prescription data throughout their nationwide locations. In order to do that, they would require some heavy-duty processing power. Using a single unified computer, the Intercom Plus, Walgreens was able to use VSAT Satellite communication to sync each of its stores.  


This story is the first of many major technical feats that have taken place in the Chicago area. The fact that Walgreens, a well known pharmaceutical retailer, would take on such a significant technical challenge, also speaks to the willingness of companies in the Windy City to collaborate across industry lines. 


Chicago by Numbers 


Let’s bring this back to the present. Today, the city of Chicago is thriving. How well is the city doing? Let’s get to the numbers! 


Tech companies in Chicago are housed throughout the city and take up an estimated 17.7 million square feet of office space collectively. Chicago’s tech workforce has over 75,000, skilled workers. That number is continuing to increase by about 5,000 each year. 


The average tech salary for a Chicago professional in 2019, was around $82,000. This number is looking to increase with the thousands of new companies looking to move to the area in 2020. 


Fastest Growing Industries in Chicago


Dow Jones Stock in a newspaper.

These are just a few of the many prospering industries in Chicago! 


Now that we took a look at how far technology has come in the Windy City of Chicago, let’s take a look at the present. Here are the fastest-growing industries in Chicago! 


1. The Capital of FinTech

Home to some of the biggest financial powerhouses in the world, Chicago has long been a central hub for all things in the financial sector. Coined the “Wall Street of the Midwest,” Chicago’s downtown financial district teems with corporate offices from companies based across the globe. Founded in 1882, the Chicago Stock Exchange now rests as the beating heart of this thriving financial community.


Today, the financial district of Chicago is booming more prominent than ever before. This is due in part to the rise of FinTech, or financial technology. Major financial companies understand that the future is online and on our smart devices.


Today, online banks are on the rise, mobile stock trading is flourishing, and getting real-time financial news on your devices is an absolute must. The financial industries in Chicago have worked hard to meet consumer expectations and continue to work on improving their current systems. With the increasing rise of technology users around the globe, Fintech companies will continue to see a demand for qualified workers both in Chicago and beyond.

 

2. Startups Everywhere 

Startups have long been a source for new-age innovation and professional growth. Startups are popping up in almost every major city across the globe, and Chicago is no exception. As the third-largest city in the U.S, Chicago has seen a significant jump in startups comparable to the likes of New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area. 


The number of startups in Chicago has grown from a little over 900 companies in 2008 to over 3,000 in 2018. This number will likely increase as Chicago is continuing to experience a mass influx of startups from other cities. In fact, Chicago is one of the United State’s largest importers of startups from other towns. You may be thinking, “is that even a thing people measure?” The answer, yes! When significant corporations in Chicago decide to merge with small startups, bring those startups to Chicago, thus ‘importing’ them. This trend has led to a substantial impact on the startup community in Chicago with both native and imported businesses. When a startup moves to Chicago, it also brings along a variety of resources and skilled workers that then go out into the tech scene of Chicago and create some pretty amazing things. 


The moral of the story: whether they’re homegrown or imported, startups are drastically changing Chicago’s tech scene for the better.


3. Large Corporations

When you look at Chicago’s beautiful skyline, you can’t help but notice the dozens of significant corporate buildings that call the city home. The buildings house some of the most significant Fortune 500 companies in the world. All of these companies understand the importance of building a presence in Chicago, and spend millions of dollars doing so! There are currently over 36 Fortune 500 companies in the downtown Chicago area. The most prominent of these include 


  • Walgreens
  • Boeing
  • State Farm Insurance
  • Mcdonald’s 
  • Discover
  • Sears

These companies are just a few of the many major corporations that have worked to become an integral part of Chicago’s corporate space. With many companies looking to expand their reach in the Windy City, who knows which company may be building a skyscraper next.


What’s the takeaway?


Lake Shore Drive, Chicago.

What does this mean for you?


Chicago is a booming, busy city with everyone continually going somewhere. If you’ve been to the town and sat in traffic for 3 hours, then you probably already knew that.


Chicago has long been a hub for business and innovation. From the opening of the stock exchange to the continued migration of tech companies, the city has experienced many high points throughout its history. The finance and technology industries in Chicago regularly work together for innovation.


Startups are popping up in every major city, and Chicago is no exception. Thousands of startups call the city home, and the number of companies throughout the city will likely grow in the coming years. Chicago is prospering economically, and this is due in part to the success of companies at both the startup and corporate levels.


Blanketed across Chicago’s beautiful skyline lies dozens of highrises and skyscraper buildings. These buildings hold some of the most prominent corporate offices in the company. From financial brokers to tech moguls, the city of Chicago benefits from the corporate presence in the area. While some may cringe at the term “corporate presence,” these companies have worked to give back to the community and help build up even the neighborhoods in Chicago that need it most.


So, what does this all mean for you? If you’re looking to make a move to Chicago and enjoy the beautiful winters and deep-dish pizza, you may be wondering what industry is right for you. The answer to that question lies in personal preference. Never jump into something you couldn’t see yourself doing 20 years from now. While money and perks are great, being miserable at a job you hate every day isn’t so great. Finding a happy balance between your goals and monetary expectations is an absolute must for anyone looking to switch industries. As for Chicago, the city is genuinely bustling, and you most likely won’t go wrong with any choice of job.

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