A Global City

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Chicago is listed among the Top 10 global cities in the world, which begs the question, what does this mean for Chicago professionals and for the future? To shed some light on the subject, we asked Richard C. Longworth, a recognized expert and speaker on the Midwest and its place in a globalizing world, to provide insight on Chicago.

Mr. Longworth, a senior fellow at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, explains a global city as “one of the command posts of the global economy…where you find the global corporate headquarters, the biggest law and accounting firms, the global accountants, the big international universities.” He further explains, “they are the [cities] that draw in the foreign students, the biggest immigrant communities and the business travelers.” But in order for this to happen, Mr. Longworth says a city has to be an attractive place to live and therefore have the best restaurants, museums, entertainment and an international airport.

Not only does Chicago fit the criteria, but it has recently been awarded a $320 million digital manufacturing institute, potentially creating a global center for industrial research. The institute will get $70 million from the government, “with the rest being invested by businesses and universities that want to be partners,” explains Mr. Longworth.  “It should bring in top-level researchers and spin off jobs in manufacturing research and design,” he says.

With evidence of changes coming to Chicago, professionals are required to think globally. This involves “realizing that we’re part of a global economy, that there’s a big world out there that we influence and that influences us everyday,” says Mr. Longworth. To fully understand what it means to think globally, he suggests living abroad. “Living abroad, as a student and as a professional, is best because it gives you a global perspective that you can’t get any other way. Businesses should make sure their employees have global experience and should hire high-quality employees from around the globe.”

But not everyone has the chance to live in another country for a significant amount of time. Therefore, another way to gain a new perspective is to take classes in international business, global strategy and other pertinent topics. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs holds classes, such as “Global Trends in Manufacturing,” that educate people and companies in how to conduct business more efficiently in a changing economy.

Learning another language is also a beneficial skill because it can help a person understand another society. “We can pretty well operate anywhere in the world because the other players in the global economy, both in business and government, speak English,” says Mr. Longworth. “But if you really want to know what’s going on in another society, you have to speak the language, so you can pick up the gossip on the street, read the papers and watch TV to grasp the nuances.”

As Chicago continues to be a global city, it’s necessary to adapt to the changes that occur. “This global economy is new – maybe 25 years old,” explains Mr. Longworth. “It’s just getting started. It will really be shaped by today’s college students. It took a century or more of political and social work to make the old industrial economy benefit most people who lived within it. Now we’ve got to do it all over again.”

By Christine Williams

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