Robert Weissbourd manages RW Ventures, LLC, an economic development firm specializing in technical analysis of urban assets and markets, and in creating the products and enterprises necessary to successfully grow urban and regional economies. He was a lead developer of the Greater Chatham Initiative, TREND, Chicagoland Food and Beverage Network, the Center for Financial Services Innovation, MetroEdge and the Metropolitan Business Planning Initiative, which he co-managed with the Brookings Institution. He previously served for ten years in executive positions at Shorebank Corporation, designing, delivering and managing comprehensive development finance initiatives to invest in distressed communities. He brings over thirty years of experience leading economic development work in dozens of cities and scores of neighborhoods.
Bob served as Chair of the Obama Campaign Urban Policy Committee, on the Obama Transition HUD Agency Review Team, as a nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Center and as adjunct professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. He also serves or served as President or Vice-President of the Boards of City Colleges of Chicago, Crossroads Fund, Elevate Energy, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, BPI and PROCAN, as well as on the Executive Committee of mHub, the Visiting Committee of the University of Chicago Law School, and the Advisory Committees for the Institute for Comprehensive Community Development, Mayor’s Technology Advisory Committee, CWICSTATS, Brookings Metropolitan Economy Project and the Urban Markets Initiative.
Bob is a frequent public speaker and author on a broad range of urban and regional economic growth issues, including business, finance, housing, clean energy, human capital and innovation dynamics. He has also testified on these issues before federal, state and local legislatures. Before joining Shorebank, Bob was a partner at Hartunian, Futterman & Howard, leading complex civil rights and other constitutional litigation, and representing governments, non-profit organizations and community leaders. He clerked for federal Judge George Leighton, after receiving a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School and a B.A. from Yale University.
Gretchen joined the firm in August 2009, bringing experience in urban planning, community and economic development, public-private partnerships, real estate economics and market analysis. Her work with the firm has included exploring new frameworks for regional economic development analysis, planning and implementation; developing and applying methods for linking neighborhood and regional economic development; and creating strategic redevelopment scenarios for innovative reuse of vacant and underutilized urban industrial land.
Prior to joining RW Ventures, Gretchen was the Director of Research for World Business Chicago, the city’s public-private economic development organization and a Project Manager for S. B. Friedman & Company, a Chicago-based real estate and development advisory firm. Gretchen holds a B.A. in Statistics, with a second concentration in Economics, from the University of Chicago; and a Masters degree in Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
Bob Dean joined RW Ventures in January 2018. His background includes urban planning and comprehensive community development at the local and regional scales. Before joining RW Ventures, Bob served as the Deputy Executive Director for Planning for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP). During his 10 years with CMAP, he created and then oversaw the Local Technical Assistance (LTA) program, which has offered planning assistance to local governments across the region through over 200 local planning projects. Before initiating the LTA program, Bob managed GO TO 2040, the award-winning comprehensive plan for the Chicago metropolitan area that was adopted in October 2010.
Prior to CMAP, Bob worked in municipal government for five years, serving as a transportation and land use planner for the City of Naperville and a transportation planning liaison for the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference. Bob holds a Masters degree in planning from Cornell University and a Bachelors in history from the University of Delaware, and is originally from the Philadelphia region. He currently lives in Evanston with his wife, two children, two cats, and lizard.
Matt joined RW Ventures in June 2014, bringing expertise in data analysis, urban planning issues, and economic development policy. Prior to joining RW Ventures, Matt worked as a Senior Consultant for MAXIMUS Consulting, Inc., where he conducted management and financial consulting projects for city and county government clients, and as a Litigation Support Analyst for Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. He has also interned with leading organizations in the sustainable urban development field, such as the Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Coalition for Smarter Growth in Washington, D.C., where he researched and analyzed affordable housing and cargo-oriented development issues. Before turning to economic development, Matt spent five years as a New York-based actor, appearing in over 30 stage and film productions and gaining union membership in Actors’ Equity. Matt has a B.A. in Political Science and a Masters degree in Public Policy, both from Duke University.