contact us | team access
news images

03.14.2017Chicagoland FOOD will be holding its official public launch on April 4! Co-hosted by the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and World Business Chicago, and sponsored by BMO Harris, this introductory lunch will provide a forum for the region’s food and beverage firms to learn about FOOD’s services and lead initiatives. Giacomo Fallucca, CEO of Palermo's Pizza and a founding member of FaB Wisconsin, will deliver the keynote address on how cluster organizations can drive industry growth. More information can be found here or by visiting

09.21.2016: Chicagoland FOOD has launched!  Alan Reed was hired as FOOD’s Executive Director in August, and laid out ambitious plans at FOOD’s first official Board of Directors meeting in September.  Alan joins FOOD after 14 years with Dairy Management, Inc., where he developed strategies and directed programs to grow demand for dairy.  A major public launch is planned for Spring 2017.

06.29.2016: The Greater Chatham Initiative (GCI) formally launched after two years of analysis, strategy and initiative development, and engagement of nearly 300 local and regional stakeholders from the public, private and civic sectors. GCI is an innovative and ambitious effort to drive reinvestment and revitalization in a set of four historically working- and middle-class bedroom communities on Chicago’s mid-South Side: Chatham, Auburn Gresham, Avalon Park and Greater Grand Crossing.  GCI offers a new approach to neighborhood development in the context of regional development, focusing on new economics, business methodologies, partnerships and capacities. The approach aims to enhance the neighborhoods’ status as communities of both opportunity – connected to regional economic opportunities – and choice – desirable places to live. Led by Executive Director Nedra Fears, GCI will work with implementation partners to coordinate strategies and pilot new partnerships and initiatives to drive linked neighborhood and regional growth. More than 100 political, business and civic leaders attending GCI’s launch, which included release of the community’s Comprehensive Plan for Economic Growth and Neighborhood Vitality

05.25.2016: Chicagoland FOOD’s Organizing Committee held its third and final meeting, taking steps towards the official formation of the region’s first food and beverage cluster organization. Through the approval of bylaws, articles of incorporation, founding Board members, Committee co-chairs and an initial business plan, the Organizing Committee completed its mandate to guide Chicagoland FOOD’s formation. Efforts will now turn to the hiring of FOOD’s first Executive Director and planning for the organization’s public launch, anticipated to occur through a series of industry events in fall 2016.

05.03.2016: Chicago TREND held the first meeting of its Steering Committee, comprised of senior executives and thought leaders representing retailers, developers, brokers, bankers, investors, government and trade and community development organizations. TREND has begun its first year of operations (see prior news item 08.01.2015), including further refinement of predictive analytics and identification of pilot projects that can drive strategic neighborhood change and which might be enhanced by TREND’s analytic, financing and other tools. For more information or to discuss potential pilot projects, see Chicago TREND’s website or contact CEO Lyneir Richardson.

03.17.2016: “Positioning Your Neighborhood for Economic Development” was one of four strategy and deep dive sessions offered to participants at HUD’s March 2016 Choice Neighborhoods Conference in Washington, DC. Delivered by RW Ventures, Chicago TREND and the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority, the session was targeted to communities pursuing a retail, industrial land use, small business or other economic development project that might feel too narrowly focused, fragmented or not strategic enough. The morning portion of the session (“deep dive”) used a case study from Columbus to illustrate how the viability of a retail project can be informed and enhanced by interrelated strategies to revitalize the surrounding neighborhood. The afternoon portion of the session (“strategy”) used an industrial land redevelopment case study from Atlanta to explore how to connect regional industrial opportunities to neighborhood assets and development – sometimes referred to as “economic place-making.”

02.25.2016 – 02.26.2016: RW Ventures and partners trained grantees from NeighborWorks America’s Catalytic Grant Program on Economic Place-Making: How to Develop a “Neighborhood Business Plan.” This new approach to neighborhood economic development, previously developed and delivered to HUD Choice Neighborhood grantees, was offered as part of the NeighborWorks Training Institute in Atlanta, GA. Bob Weissbourd, Matt Schuneman, Teresa Lynch (Mass Economics), Teresa Prim (Prim Lawrence Group) and Andy Mooney (formerly of LISC-Chicago and the Chicago Department of Planning & Development) helped participating organizations identify their neighborhood types and potential trajectories, and then develop strategies to connect their neighborhoods' particular assets to the unique economic opportunities of their regions.  Breakout exercises and feedback from the training team helped grantees to identify and present linked initiatives addressing business, workforce, entrepreneurship, housing, amenities and other assets to enhance their neighborhoods as places of choice and opportunity. To view the training materials, [click here]. 

08.01.2015: Chicago TREND is launching!  (See prior news item, 12.17.2013.)  Led by founding entrepreneur Lyneir Richardson, lead partners include ICSC, Nielsen, Econsult Solutions and RES Group, along with leading developers and retailers.  TREND provides targeted support for “retail on the leading edge” – combining predictive analytics, deal brokering and facilitation and specialized financial products to support strategic retail development that considers and influences the trajectory of neighborhoods. TREND has start-up funding and investment commitments, and is vetting potential pilot projects with developers and retailers in order to begin the first phase of implementation during the 4th quarter of 2015.  A one-page summary of TREND is available here, and a more thorough background presentation is available here.

06.16.2015: To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, the Chicago Federal Executive Board invited Bob Weissbourd to speak on the nation’s progress combatting poverty and what still needs to be done. Bob’s remarks and presentation (available here) highlighted that existing welfare programs have significantly reduced absolute poverty but are falling short against the growing challenge of relative poverty. The presentation outlines a new market-based approach and set of federal policies to spur inclusive economic growth and bring more people and places into the economic mainstream.

5.29.2015: RW Ventures and the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC) have released a comprehensive analysis of the Chicagoland food cluster, Chicagoland FOOD - Seizing the Opportunity to Grow Chicagoland’s Food Industry. The report details the Chicagoland food cluster and its recent performance, highlights transformative trends in the local and national food industry, and lays the groundwork for a regional food cluster organization that will lead collaborative cluster efforts to support and grow local firms. Industry and regional business leaders, including the Cook County Council of Economic Advisors, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and World Business Chicago, are now taking the next steps to create a Chicagoland food cluster organization, and to design the primary products and services that will address food firms’ highest priority needs.

03.06.2015: Leading national practitioners gathered in Chicago to explore opportunities for better integrating the practices of urban planning/design and economic development in the context of the changing global economy and its effects on urban growth form.  RW Ventures (RWV) and Urban Planning and Design for the American City (UPDAC) led the brainstorming session, which compared and contrasted the goals, frameworks, tools and activities of each discipline as they apply to particular types of emerging urban challenges and opportunities (e.g., innovation districts, reuse of urban industrial land, impacts of technology and the changing nature of work, etc.).  The convening was supported by the Ford Foundation/Institute of International Education (IIE) and the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, which hosted the event.  The discussion paper for the conversation is available here.

11.05.2014: Bob Weissbourd presented "Inclusive Regional Economic Growth" at the CEOs for Cities national meetingThe presentation highlights the economic imperative, and offers a framework, approach, analysis and examples for better achieving both prosperity and equity by aligning growth and inclusion.  The presentation builds from a convening and ongoing coordination, facilitated by RW Ventures and supported by the Ford Foundation, of leading practitioners building the practice of inclusive regional economic growth around the country.  The presentation was part of a panel with Sly James (Mayor, Kansas City), Rob Simpson (President + CEO, CenterstateCEO), and Gloria Ware (Principal, Inclusion, Jumpstart), moderated by Teresa Lynch (Principal, Mass Economics).

10.28-30.2014RW Ventures and partners delivered a fourth training on Economic Place-Making: How to Develop a “Neighborhood Business Plan” for HUD's Choice Neighborhoods grantees. This October session at HUD's Boston field office was given to Northeastern grantees, following previous regional sessions in Cleveland, Atlanta, and San Francisco. Over two and a half days, Bob Weissbourd, Matt Schuneman, Teresa Lynch (Mass Economics), Marlene Seltzer and Thomas Hooper (Jobs for the Future) worked with grantees to reframe their neighborhoods' economic opportunities and challenges in the context of their regional economies. Through hands-on breakout sessions and one-on-one consultations, grantees honed integrated strategies tailored to strengthen their neighborhoods as places of choice and opportunity that better enable their residents, businesses and built environment to participate in the next economy. To view the training materials, click here.

09.29.2014Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, DuPage County Chairman Dan Cronin and the Chief Executives of Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will Counties convened on September 29, 2014 to announce the launch of an unprecedented regional collaboration to improve Chicagoland’s economic competitiveness through exports. The culmination of collaboration among county, city, regional and national partners, Metro Chicago Exports will expand exports by the region’s small and medium-sized businesses by engaging high potential firms with export opportunity, and providing “concierge” services to link them to appropriate service providers and funding.  RW Ventures is a principal partner and advisor in design and implementation of the initiative. 

09.12.2014Local Initiatives Support Corporation of Indianapolis engaged a project team to identify the cluster-based opportunities for redevelopment of industrial land in the city’s existing industrial corridors.  Firms and people are increasingly seeking a return to dense, urban environments, presenting opportunities to redevelop underutilized industrial land like that in central Indianapolis as economic generators for the next economy.  Mass Economics, RW Ventures, Bookman AssociatesCapraro Consulting Services and Jones Lang LaSallepartnered to select two high-potential economic clusters – (1) food manufacturing and distribution and (2) local business-to-business services (B2B) – with economic and land use characteristics suitable for locating in and near downtown Indianapolis.  The project team analyzed the location patterns and site and building requirements of firms in these clusters to develop detailed location, site and building profiles for both clusters, provided recommendations for promoting growth of the food and local B2B clusters in existing industrial areas, and proposed methodologies for the next round of cluster development and industrial land analysis.  Click each link to view the reportappendices, and cluster selection presentation.

07.25.2014The Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF) engaged a national team, organized by RW Ventures, to create strategic redevelopment scenarios for a 31-acre site the foundation owns in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Atlanta, GA.  In the context of growing opportunities in the next-economy for “economic place making” that aligns neighborhood and regional development (see 04.18.2014 post, below), the cross-disciplinary team – including partners Mass EconomicsStoss Landscape UrbanismTSW and Noell Consulting Group – undertook extensive regional and local market analysis and stakeholder engagement to identify a range of market-feasible development alternatives for the site that would maximize opportunities for community residents and businesses.  Scenarios ranged from a food innovation park to a “blue collar innovation district”: an excerpt from the work can be viewed here.  The team also prepared a “go to market” strategy for implementing development of the site.  AECF is proceeding with site development by engaging in a Request for Qualifications process.

06.09.2014: RW Ventures convened a national meeting of leading regional economic development practitioners at the Ford Foundation in New York to discuss trends, challenges and opportunities in the emerging practice of Inclusive Regional Economic Growth (IREG).  Discussion Paper available here. The meeting explored the new challenges and opportunities presented by the “next economy,” and their implications for aligning inclusion and growth practices around activities like innovation districts, cluster strategies and “economic place-making.”Presentations available here. As more regions embrace IREG approaches, there is need for new capacity to coordinate and support these activities.

Three strands of activities are following up on the meeting at present.  A team of practitioners is leading a business planning process to design a new national networked organization to scale and support IREG practice. Less formal conversations are proceeding on opportunities for new development finance products and institutions tailored to the next economy IREG development activities. More broadly, the conversation has been picked up across numerous forums; for example, see Bob Weissbourd’s presentation at the 2014 CEOs for Cities national meeting, also presented as an IEDC webinar.

04.04.2014 - 06.06.2014: Professor (!) Bob Weissbourd has teamed up with Derek Douglas, Vice President for Civic Engagement at the University of Chicago, to teach “Adventures in Urban Economic Development” at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy Studies. You can view the syllabus here.  

04.22.2014: Bob Weissbourd was interviewed on the potential economic development impacts of Barack Obama’s presidential library on WBEZ’s Morning Shift and in the Chicago Tribune. Listen to the segment here.

04.08.2014: As people and firms move back to cities, there is an increasing opportunity for “economic placemaking” – for taking underutilized industrial land and transforming it into an economic generator. One emerging form of economic placemaking is a “blue collar innovation district,” in which industrial firms co-locate and benefit from shared infrastructure and/or services. RW Ventures is currently engaged in projects in Atlanta and Indianapolis which are developing these types of initiatives.

03.20-21.2014: RW Ventures is leading comprehensive two-day trainings on Economic Place-Making: How to Develop a “Neighborhood Business Plan” for HUD Choice Neighborhoods grantees. The first training was in Cleveland for the Midwest grantees; the second in Atlanta for the Southeastern grantees; a third will be in San Francisco for the West and Southwest grantees.  Over the course of two days, Bob Weissbourd, Sophie Cohen and Teresa Lynch (Mass Economics) work with grantees analyzing their neighborhood’s economic opportunities and challenges in the context of their regional economy, and developing strategies for strengthening their neighborhood. To view the training materials, click here.

01.29.2014: At the January meeting of Cook County’s Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC), Bob Weissbourd delivered a presentation about economic development trends in the knowledge economy. He spoke about the transformation occurring as we move to a knowledge-based economy, and the implications this has for the practice of economic development, broadly, and the specific implications for Cook County. View Bob’s slide deck here.  

01.05.2014: As part of a Chicago Tribune series on the region’s biggest challenges in 2014, Bob Weissbourd argued for the importance of achieving inclusive economic growth, and identified strategies for better deploying the people and places often left out of the economy. Read his op-ed here.

12.17.2013: Chicago TREND (Transforming Retail Economics of Neighborhood Development), a MacArthur-funded project of RW Ventures, LISC Chicago and Econsult Solutions, aims to enable successful retail development that fits with how specific communities are changing, and helps get them there. It seeks to provide new resources to more accurately assess and predict retail opportunity, to reduce the costs and risks of retail development, and to target retail that aligns with complementary housing, infrastructure and other community development investments. The project is coming off the drawing board, and a critical first step is a survey of the shopping behavior of City of Chicago residents. Please take the survey here.

12.12.2013The County Executives and economic development leaders from the 7-County Chicago region met to discuss opportunities for collaborating on economic growth issues. Organized by Cook County staff with support from Metropolis Strategies and RW Ventures, this first-of-its-kind meeting began with a welcome from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who reiterated her commitment to working together to promote the region’s economic growth. Subsequent presentations by Bill Testa of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and RW Ventures’ Bob Weissbourd focused, respectively, on the performance of the Chicago metro area as one integrated economy and on models and frameworks for engaging in collaborative economic growth activities. Participants then heard about illustrative opportunities for collaboration around three shared interests: Jim Blackmon of Carry Transit spoke about Freight and Logistics, Julie Carducci of the U.S. Commercial Service discussed exports, and David Boulay of the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center presented on the Food Processing and Packaging cluster. The morning concluded with table discussions of practical initiatives that the region could work on together.

11.15.2013: RW Ventures and the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC) are bringing together food and beverage manufacturers, related firms in their supply chains and industry organizations to identify common challenges and work collaboratively toward solutions. If you know a company that may be interested in getting involved, please contact Sophie Cohen at

11.05.2013: The Milwaukee 7 (M7) released a draft of its Framework for Economic Growth at the November meeting of its Regional Economic Development Advisory Council.  M7 engaged public, private and civic stakeholders from around the seven-county region to create a market-based plan for growing the regional economy.  The plan – developed using the Metropolitan Business Planning framework co-developed by RW Ventures and The Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program – derives nine strategies to “set a new course for regional prosperity.”  M7 and its partners are currently exploring next steps toward implementation.  The full draft plan and executive summary are available on the M7 website.

11.01.2013: We’ve moved! Our new offices remain in the historic Inland Steel Building, but we are now located on the 10th floor, in Suite 1025. Our phone numbers have not changed.

09.16.2013-09.17.2013: Midwest-based planning and implementation grantees from HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods program gathered in Cleveland to learn about Neighborhood Business Planning, a new approach to neighborhood economic development.  This approach reconciles two distinct frameworks: one that focuses on connecting neighborhood assets to their regional economies, and another that considers neighborhoods as distinct places to live within a region. Throughout the day and a half training, Bob Weissbourd, Vidisha Vachharajani, Sophie Cohen and Richard Voith (Econsult) introduced participants to the economic framework supporting Neighborhood Business Planning, and then walked through the steps to developing a tailored economic growth plan for their neighborhood, from detailed market analysis to strategies and product development to operational and financial planning. During each session, participants considered their own neighborhood’s challenges and opportunities, building to a concluding session in which they identified strategies to support their neighborhood’s growth. To view the presentations, click here.

05.23.2013:  The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development convened all of its Choice Neighborhoods grantees to discuss challenges, opportunities and next steps in the grantees’ communities.  Next steps include developing and implementing substantial initiatives to deploy funds available for neighborhood economic development.  In a session on “Strategies for Neighborhood Economic Growth,” Bob Weissbourd presented the “metro-economic” context in which the grantees’ work takes place and described the dynamics of neighborhoods and their connection to the regional economy. Bob also addressed the drivers of neighborhood change and different tools and interventions that neighborhoods can utilize to understand and shift their trajectories. To view Bob’s PowerPoint, click here.

04.04.2013:  Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, accepting the recommendations of her Council of Economic Advisors,  adopted Partnering for Prosperity: An Economic Growth Action Agenda for Cook County (available here, with executive summary here), a report developed with assistance from RW Ventures and Metropolis Strategies.  The Action Agenda provides a blueprint for more strategic, targeted and deeper County engagement in regional economic development, recommending nine key strategies based on Cook’s role and capacities in the regional economy.  RW Ventures and Metropolis Strategies will continue to work with Cook County, as it now adapts its programs and engages partners to create transformative initiatives to implement the strategies. 

01.16.2013: The Mayor’s Innovation Project hosted their two-day Winter meeting in Washington, DC, bringing together forward-looking mayors from across the country. Bob Weissbourd organized a panel on “Strategic Regional Economic Development,” and opened by describing the changing nature of the next economy, and the impacts of these changes on the way cities and regions should approach economic development. The panel proceeded with examples from around the country, as metropolitan business planning partners Kathleen Lee of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and Cecile Bedor of St. Paul’s Department of Planning and Economic Development presented their work, and Toni Griffin of the City College of New York’s J. Max Bond Centershared the recently released Detroit plan.

10.12.2012: Governor Pat Quinn appointed Robert Weissbourd to Illinois' Economic Data Task Force. This group will analyze the benefits and feasibility of expanding access to data produced and maintained by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES).

08.01.2012: The Chicago Tribune published an op-ed authored by Bob Weissbourd, entitled “Chicago: Governance for the 21st century economy.”  The piece argues that greater public-private collaboration and a more flexible, dynamic and open institutional infrastructure are necessary to be competitive in today’s increasingly global and knowledge-based economy.  It also highlights recent momentum in this direction by the City of Chicago and Cook County.

07.03.2012: RW Ventures is pleased to announce that Vidisha Vachharajani has joined the firm.  Vidisha recently completed her PhD in Economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, after also obtaining a Masters in Statistics.  She brings experience in sophisticated statistical modeling, particularly econometric applications.  Her work as a research assistant at the university included managing large data sets and implementing varied statistical models for solving applied research problems in environmental economics and regional and international development issues.

06.21.2012: The Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, in partnership with the heads of the Chamber of Commerce of St. Joseph County and the Corporate Partnership for Economic Growth, hosted the first ever South Bend Economic Summit.  The event brought together more than 250 participants engaged in or interested in economic development in the South Bend/Michiana area.  The day-long agenda featured a keynote address by Bob Weissbourd, entitled “Regions Charting New Directions: Metropolitan Business Planning.” 

06.07.2012:  The Milwaukee 7 Regional Economic Development Advisory Council invited Bob Weissbourd to speak at their June meeting to advise them as they “refresh and reframe” their existing regional economic plan, based on the framework developed for the Metropolitan Business Planning initiative. In the context of global, macro-economic trends, and with an eye toward successes in other regions, Bob focused on Milwaukee’s unique assets and challenges and encouraged the audience to think creatively about strategies and initiatives that would build on these opportunities to grow the regional economy. Bob's presentation is available here.

04.12.2012 - 04.13.2012: The seven pilot Metropolitan Business Planning (MBP) teams reconvened in Washington, DC for a second session of peer exchange and collective learning.  The two-day session included opportunities for each team to present their current work and solicit feedback from peers and staff at The Brookings Institution and RW Ventures, as well as discuss a set of cross-cutting topics such as converting strategies into actionable initiatives and enterprises, and building long-term institutional capacity.

02.29.2012: Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled “A Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs,” developed by World Business Chicago.  The plan rigorously analyzes the market levers that drive Chicagoland’s growth and, based on the region’s unique assets and challenges, proposes ten mutually reinforcing long-term growth strategies to transform the economy.  Development of the Plan was staffed by McKinsey & Company, the Brookings Institution, Metropolis Strategies and RW Ventures.

01.21.2011:  Economic Impacts of GO TO 2040 (executive summary available here) was released at anEconomic Club of Chicago luncheon entitled “The Economic Future of Chicago.”  Commissioned by the Chicago Community Trust , the report offers a framework for understanding regional economies and provides a qualitative assessment of the likely economic impacts of implementing the recommendations made in GO TO 2040, the long-term comprehensive plan released by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) in October 2010.

12.08.2010Global Metro Summit 2010: Delivering the Next Economy” drew more than 500 attendees from the U.S. and abroad to explore a vision for the post-recession economy, and the role of metropolitan areas in driving prosperity.  The program featured the transformative experiences of four international regions (Barcelona, Munich, Seoul and Torino), as well as the three domestic regions participating in Brookings’ and RW Ventures’ Metropolitan Business Planning pilot project (Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Northeast Ohio and the Seattle/Puget Sound region; see news items on 05.13.2010 and 12.07.10).  A smaller, closed session was held on December 7 to enable more in-depth discussion among public, private-sector and civic leaders from the seven regions and national and international experts.  Event materials, including profiles of all seven regions and a draft policy brief framing the Metropolitan Business Planning pilot project, can be accessed here.

12.07.2010: The three regions participating in the Metropolitan Business Planning pilot project (MBP; see 05.13.10 news item) unveiled full drafts of their plans and “investment prospectuses” for an initial, catalytic project in each of their respective regions.  Northeast Ohio, Minneapolis-Saint Paul and the Puget Sound (Seattle) metro area are pushing forward to implement key projects that are tailored to their regions’ strengths and opportunities; are integrated across traditional policy and programmatic “silos;” and will position them for success in the post-recession global economy.  The full set of plans and prospectuses will be available here in the coming weeks.

12.03.2010: The Institute for Comprehensive Community Development (ICCD; see 4.20.2010 news item) released the inaugural issue of its journal, including a paper entitled “Lessons from the Field: How 21st Century Community Development Can Inform Federal Policy,” as well as an interview with its author, Bob Weissbourd.  The paper addresses the importance and functions of neighborhoods; identifies best practices in neighborhood development; illustrates these using highlights from LISC’s Sustainable Communities program; and offers suggestions for federal policy.

11.12.2010: Leading scholars, policymakers and practitioners on various drivers of regional economic growth gathered in Washington, D.C. for a lively, provocative and highly informative workshop hosted by the George Washington Institute of Public Policy and RW Ventures, funded by the Surdna Foundation. The workshop was a critical component of a year-long project – “Implementing Regionalism: Connecting Emerging Theory and Practice to Inform Economic Development” (see 2.09.2010 news item) – that aims to translate academic research into actionable guidance for economic development practitioners and identify a forward-looking agenda for applied research and product development. 

09.11.2010: At Artingegna 2010, a regional business conference in Rovereto, Italy with the theme of “The Energy of the Future for the Economy of the Present,” Bob Weissbourd gave the keynote presentation (available in both English and Italian), which describes the growing market for “green” products, identifies business opportunities and offers suggestions for regional green strategy development.

05.26.2010Chicago Metropolis 2020 (CM2020) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago kicked off a series of co-sponsored workshops, with the support of RW Ventures and other partners, around topics affecting the metropolitan Chicago economy.  The first of these drew together local and national experts to discuss the topic of economic “clusters,” their relevance to the local economy and implications for acting to improve local economic performance.  The workshop series is part of a six-month project exploring the condition and future direction of the region’s economy, jointly funded by the Chicago Community Trust and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

05.19.2010: Time magazine blogger Karen Dybis interviewed Bob Weissbourd on the prospects for revitalization in Detroit for the online magazine’s “The Detroit Blog.”  The blog is one part of Time’s year-long project, “Assignment Detroit,” begun in September 2009 to enable in-depth, on-the-ground (the magazine bought a house in the city for project staffers) exploration of the many challenges and opportunities facing the city. 

05.13.2010: Teams from Northeast Ohio, Minneapolis-St. Paul and the Seattle metro area gathered in Chicago with staff from The Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program and RW Ventures to review their progress on the Metropolitan Business Planning (MBP) project.  The MBP project aims to illustrate the value of tailored, bottom-up, comprehensive regional economic development planning and make the case for integrated federal funding of metropolitan development activities.  The pilot MBP project, co-led by Brookings  and RW Ventures, began in fall 2009 and will culminate with the metro teams’ participation in a global economic summit in Chicago in December 2010.

04.20.2010: The Local Initiatives Support Corporation held its inaugural event for the Institute for Comprehensive Community Development in Washington, D.C.  The purpose of the Institute is to use lessons learned from practice as a basis for providing training, promoting research and investigating the public policies that would best advance comprehensive community development locally and nationally.  Bob Weissbourd, a member of the Institute’s board of advisors, participated in one of the day’s panel discussions and is authoring a paper for the Institute on “Lessons from the Field: How 21st Century Community Development Can Inform Federal Policy.” 

03.01.2010: Richard Steele, co-host of Chicago’s National Public Radio affiliate, WBEZ, interviewed Bob Weissbourd for its daily news, opinion and culture showcase, “Eight Forty-Eight.”  The  interview explored some of the broad findings of RW Ventures’ study on neighborhood change, “Dynamic Neighborhoods: New Tools for Community and Economic Development” (see 11.23.2009 news item), and how these results apply to Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods. 

02.26.2010 Bob Weissbourd gave a presentation entitled “Understanding a Dynamic Decade: Trends in Housing and Foreclosures” as part of the symposium hosted by the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration and co-sponsored by several other university departments and research centers.  The“Understanding a Dynamic Decade: Population Trends, Public Policy, and the 2010 Census in Chicago,”symposium brought together population researchers, community leaders and policymakers to discuss population trends over the past 10 years and their implications for completion of the 2010 Census and policy in the next decade. 

02.09.2010: In conjunction with the 2010 Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards (CNDA), sponsored by LISC/Chicago, local civic and political leaders participated in a panel discussion on the effects the recession has had on the progress of distressed neighborhoods.  Participants included Alderman and Cook County Board presidential candidate Tony Preckwinkle; Raul Raymundo, Executive Director of The Resurrection Project; Scott Myers, Executive Director of World Sport Chicago; and Bob Weissbourd, President of RW Ventures. 

02.09.2010: The Surdna Foundation awarded $125,000 to the George Washington University Institute of Public Policy and partner RW Ventures to study the interrelated systems that drive regional prosperity.  The one-year project will include a paper reviewing the current state of knowledge in the economic development field, identifying key knowledge gaps and proposing an agenda for future applied research to fill those gaps and inform the actions of economic development practitioners. 

11.23.2009: Dynamic Neighborhoods: New Tools for Community and Economic Development," the final report of a three-year project sponsored by Living Cities and led by RW Ventures, is now available here. The report offers new analysis and frameworks for understanding neighborhood development, a typology of urban neighborhoods and a portfolio of new analytic tools for targeting interventions and investments. An Executive Summary of the report is available here, while the technical Appendices can be found here.

10.26.2009: Bob Weissbourd and Michael He presented the findings of their work with the Cook County Assessor's office (see 3.16.2009 news item) to the City of Milwaukee's Community and Economic Development Committee and the City Assessor. The presentation (available here) describes the key impacts of the assessment process on real estate markets, communities, households and local government; how current assessment practices often do not adequately reflect the market downturn and particularly the impact of foreclosures; how to address these problems; and the potential implications for assessment districts nation wide.

09.25.2009: At the invitation of the National League of Cities, Bob Weissbourd and Michael He addressed the organization's Community and Economic Development Steering Committee at its two-day meeting in Muskegon, Michigan. They presented the firm's recent work for the Cook County Assessor's office (see 3.16.2009 news item), improving assessment models to better account for the market downturn and the impact of foreclosures on neighborhood property values. The presentation is available 

09.25.2009: At the invitation of the National League of Cities, Bob Weissbourd and Michael He addressed the organization's Community and Economic Development Steering Committee at its two-day meeting in Muskegon, Michigan. They presented the firm's recent work for the Cook County Assessor's office (see 3.16.2009 news item), improving assessment models to better account for the market downturn and the impact of foreclosures on neighborhood property values. The presentation is available here.

08.03.2009: RW Ventures is pleased to announce that Gretchen Kosarko has joined the firm. Gretchen was most recently the Director of Research for World Business Chicago, the city's public-private economic development organization. Prior to that, she was a Project Manager at Chicago-based real estate and development consulting firm S.B. Friedman & Company. She brings experience in urban planning, community and economic development, real estate economics, public-private partnerships and market analysis.

06.20.2009: The findings and tools developed by the Dynamic Neighborhood Taxonomy project continue to generate significant interest across the country. RW Ventures recently presented the results of the project and potential applications of the tools to the City of Seattle, the City of Boston, a gathering of community development institutions in Massachusetts, and a roundtable on Vital Neighborhoods in Philadelphia. Sample power points are available here.

06.01.2009: Over the past few months, RW Ventures has been helping the City of Chicago design comprehensive strategies for expanding green building retrofits. In the context of this work, RW Ventures assembled a team of national experts and developed a set of strategies aimed at expanding the market for retrofits, and is providing ongoing assistance to the City as it moves toward implementation. RW Ventures is also part of several national greening networks, including in particular Urban Sustainability Associates.

03.16.2009: As reported on ABC 7 Newsand the Chicago Sun Times, the Cook County Assessor's Office is partnering with RW Ventures, LLC to gauge the impact of foreclosures on neighborhood property values. The goal is to create improvements to the assessment process so that it better reflects the realities of the current housing market. This project will result in substantially more accurate assessment of property values, particularly in communities affected by high foreclosure rates. By reducing potential overassessment, these improvements will bring much needed property tax relief to homeowners in these neighborhoods.

01.20.2009: Bob Weissbourd served as member of the Obama-Biden Transition team. Along with other national urban policy and housing experts, he conducted a review of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, briefed the new Secretary, and developed recommendations for the incoming administration. During the presidential campaign, Bob served as Chair of Obama for America's Urban and Metropolitan Policy Committee.

12.10.2008: Detailed neighborhood reports based on data and metrics prepared by RW Ventures have been in demand by organizations ranging from the Chicago Housing Authority to the Metropolitan Planning Council. The reports have been used in a variety of applications, from investigating the outcomes of CHA's Plan for Transformation in particular communities to compiling information in connection with Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid.

10.20.2008: The Local Initiatives Support Corporation and Enterprise commissioned a study of the impact of Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) projects. The research, conducted by RW Ventures, LLC in Chicago and Seattle, investigated the effect that LIHTC projects have on surrounding property values and crime rates. Contrary to popular beliefs, the research found that LIHTC projects have a positive effect on their communities, as they lead to increases in property values and have no impact on crime.

9.22.2008: The current issue of Nextstreet Financial's "Perspectives" magazine features and editorial by Bob Weissbourd. The piece, titled "Old Conflicts: New Opportunities," argues for a paradigm shift in how we craft urban policy, aiming for "inclusive prosperity" as a way to get past the old notion of tradeoffs between equity and growth, supply side and demand side, business and development. The editorial is available here.

09.05.2008: We are pleased to report that the analysis for the Dynamic Neighborhood Taxonomy project has been completed, and the project team is now in the process of finalizing the presentation of the results. A full report documenting the project and its findings will soon be available. In the meantime, a document summarizing the key project outcomes is available here.

05.20.2008: A full report presenting the methodology and findings of "Grads and Fads: the Dynamics of Human Capital Location" is now available in the publications section of our web site. The project, conducted for CEOs for Cities, explored the relative importance of economic and quality of life factors in attracting and retaining knowledge workers. 

02.10.2008: The Dynamic Neighborhood Taxonomy project is developing innovative tools for community and economic development. A document describing an initial set of tools developed by the project, including a cutting edge index of neighborhood performance, can be found in the dedicated sectionof our web site.

01.15.2008 The Funders' Exchange on Community Change, Poverty Reduction and Prosperity Promotion, coordinated by the Aspen Institute, featured a new presentation at their San Diego meetings, by Bob Weissbourd, on "Analyzing Local Economies." The presentation, which includes new findings, tools and frameworks from the Dynamic Neighborhood Taxonomy project , is available in the Publications section of our site. 

10.22.2007: The Third Annual J.McDonald Williams Institute conference in Dallas featured a panel on urban revitalization including researchers, developers and business representatives. Riccardo Bodini spoke about new information resources influencing retail location decisions and the implications of the current trends in urban America for communities engaging in retail development.

10.20.2007The Williams Review publishes "Regional Effects and Convergence in Dallas Neighborhood Housing Markets," a paper by Riccardo Bodini presenting selected findings from the Dynamic Neighborhood Taxonomy project. The paper investigates two key questions relating to the dynamics of neighborhood change: the extent to which change in housing prices at the neighborhood level is driven by change in the region, and the extent to which neighborhoods tend to converge over time. The paper is available in the Publications section of this site. 

10.19.2007: In the context of the Urban Markets Initiative Forum "Connecting Communities," Robert Weissbourd and Riccardo Bodini unveiled some of the tools that the Dynamic Neighborhood Taxonomy project is developing, including the innovative DNT Repeat Sales Index and a new method for estimating the impact of various development interventions. The power point presentation from the conference can be found here.

10.19.2007: The Urban Markets Initiative Forum also featured a plenary on Innovation. Robert Weissbourd's speech addressing opportunities for and barriers to innovation in the field of economic development can be found here.

10.03.2007: The National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership invited RW Ventures to present the initial results of the Dynamic Neighborhood Taxonomy project at its conference in Indianapolis. The presentation included a brief background on the project, the initial findings from the Evolution phase of the analysis, as well as a description of the work the project is currently undertaking. To access the report with the findings from the Evolution phase of the project, as well as additional project materials, please register here.

06.15.2007: The City that NetWorks: Transforming Society and Economy through Digital Excellence" was unveiled by Julia Stasch, Chair of the Mayor's Advisory Council on Closing the Digital Divide, at the Community Media Summit on June 15. The Report lays out a comprehensive plan for achieving universal digital excellence, as vital to the future of a global city. RW Ventures played the lead role in drafting the Report (a copy of which will soon be available in the Publications section of the web site). 

05.03.2007: "Exploring Innovation," a national conference on community development finance sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, featured Bob Weissbourd as a "Key Leader," presenting a session on "Into the Economic Mainstream"with Mark Pinsky of Opportunity Finance Network, and a luncheon plenary on "Innovation in the Nation," along with Sandra Braunstein of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and John Talmage of Social Compact.

03.12.2007: Chicago's Global Future Study Group is a series of discussion meetings on how Chicago can compete and thrive in the global economy, sponsored by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. In connection with this series, RW Ventures prepared a policy brief based on the implications of "Grads and Fads: The Dynamics of Human Capital Location" for the Chicago Region. The brief was presented by Bob Weissbourd at the March meeting of the group, which focused on the importance of education. The full report presenting the Study Group findings can be found here.

01.29.2007: On January 29th, the City of Seattle hosted the Seattle kickoff meeting for the Dynamic Neighborhood Taxonomyproject. The meeting of community, government, business, academic, foundation and other leaders introduced the project and presented preliminary findings on patterns of change in Seattle neighborhoods. To find out more about the project, please register here.                             

01.10.2007: RW Ventures is pleased to announce that Michael He has joined the firm. Michael, who has a Masters in statistics from Stanford and private sector experience in market analysis and segmentation, brings an exceptional set of skills in sophisticated quantitative and analytic methods, and is a tremendous addition to the RW Ventures team.

08.22.2006: Living Cities has recently released the first volume of the Living Cities Policy Series, a collection of papers to stimulate serious conversation about issues that are important to American cities. The Series includes our piece "Strengthening Communities for Regional Prosperity," which highlights key connections between neighborhood and regional development. The series has been distributed by Congressman Michael Turner to the members of the Speaker's Saving American Cities Working Group, and to the Working Group's Urban Advisory Committee. The full article is available here.

06.05.2006: RW Ventures has moved into new office space. Click here to see our new contact information.

04.05.2006The MacArthur Foundation and Living Cities hosted a meeting of research organizations, community development practitioners and data providers to introduce the Dynamic Neighbnorhood Taxonomy Project and discuss data and measurement issues for community economic development. The meeting, titled "Measuring Neighborhood Dynamics," attracted leading experts and organizations from across the country and generated an engaging and productive conversation. Meeting materials will be available soon on our web site.

02.10.2006: Sponsored by Living Cities, RW Ventures is launching the Dynamic Neighborhood Taxonomy project, a multi-year initiative designed to create better tools for understanding urban communities. Ultimately, the DNT aspires toenable neighborhood development practitioners, businesses and others who invest in neighborhoods to identify, with respect to particular communities, the neighborhood type, its pattern and stage of development, and key interventions to drive change. The project hopes to establish a network of participating partner organizations that would share data, provide feedback and apply the project results. A short project description can be found 

02.10.2006: Sponsored by Living Cities, RW Ventures is launching the Dynamic Neighborhood Taxonomy project, a multi-year initiative designed to create better tools for understanding urban communities. Ultimately, the DNT aspires toenable neighborhood development practitioners, businesses and others who invest in neighborhoods to identify, with respect to particular communities, the neighborhood type, its pattern and stage of development, and key interventions to drive change. The project hopes to establish a network of participating partner organizations that would share data, provide feedback and apply the project results. A short project description can be found hereContact usto learn more about this initiative.

02.07.2006: "Attracting and Retaining Knoweldge Workers" was the subject of a Central Philadelphia Development Corporation Forum presentation by Bob Weissbourd. CPDC, a leading downtown development organization, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. 

09.12.2005: Bob Weissbourd and Carol Coletta of CEOs for Cities present Changing Dynamics of Urban America to the Greater Milwaukee Committee.The event was designed to launch a joint effort to brand and promote the Greater Milwaukee Region.

09.01.2005: Bob Weissbourd is selected to be on the Advisory Board of the Metropolitan Economies Project. The project, recently launched by the Brookings Institution's 

09.01.2005: Bob Weissbourd is selected to be on the Advisory Board of the Metropolitan Economies Project. The project, recently launched by the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program,is a multi-year initiative designed to promote understanding of the economic transformation underway in American cities and metropolitan areas.

08.30.2005RW Ventures completes a market analysis report for the Planning Departmentof Oklahoma City. The report assessed the potential forcommercial revitalization in the Northeast sector of Oklahoma City.

06.23.2005: Riccardo Bodini presents at BorderLines in Toronto, a conference on how to foster prosperity in Canadian and American city regions.

03.10.2005: Hot off the presses! The Urban Markets Initiatives at the Brookings Institution has published our two new papers on market-based economic development. 

02.17.2005: Riccardo Bodini and Jim Rooney present The Changing Dynamics of Urban America at theMetroBusinessNet annual convening in Miami.

01.26.2012: The Delta Institute and the University of Chicago Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies kicked off a series of joint presentations with a session on "The Midwest Green Economy: Past, Present and Future.”  Bob Weissbourd participated in the panel discussion moderated by Delta’s Jean Pogge. Based on findings of the recently released report (“The Chicago Region’s ‘Green’ Economic Opportunities”) by RW Ventures and Innovation Network for Communities, Bob provided a framework for approaching green economic development and highlighted some of the Chicago region’s emerging opportunities in green sectors. 

01.23.2012: The second of the three-part “Connecting to Markets” series, co-sponsored by the Institute for Comprehensive Community Development, the Urban Institute and the Federal Reserve Banks of Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and San Francisco, focused on Neighborhoods and Residential Markets.  The session specifically addressed the effects of the foreclosure crisis on neighborhoods, cities and regions.  Bob Weissbourd opened the day with a short discussion of broader economic trends, and their implications for neighborhoods and regions, to provide context for the discussions that took place throughout the day in Chicago and in Federal Reserve offices in several other locations. 

12.09.2011: Teams from the seven pilot Metropolitan Business Planning (MBP) regions gathered in Washington, DC with staff from The Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program and RW Ventures to engage in a day of interactive learning and rich cross-regional discussion.  The convening provided the first formal opportunity for teams from the first and second cohorts to interact and share lessons learned.  Participants represented Northeast Ohio, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, the Puget Sound/Seattle, Central Upstate New York, the Bluegrass Economic Region, Memphis/Shelby County and Phoenix/Maricopa County (see related items on 05.13.2010, 12.07.2010, 12.08.2010, 04.11.2011 and 06.01.2011).

11.01.2011:  MyHomeEQ, a joint venture of RW Ventures and CNT Energy (see 12.20.10 news), officially debuted in the Chicagoland market as part of Energy Impact Illinois (EI2), a CMAP-led initiative for more energy-efficient buildings.  As the online energy tool component of EI2, MyHomeEQ makes it easy for homeowners to learn about and improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

10.11.2011-10.12.2011:  The Fall Meeting of CEOs for Cities brought together mayors, CEOs, cabinet secretaries, philanthropists, researchers and entrepreneurs from across the country to address the challenges facing America’s urban centers.  The first day featured a panel on “City Vitals: How Do We Measure the Success of Cities?” in which Joe Cortright of Impresa presented key metrics for assessing the strength of cities.  Weissbourd gave a short presentation (available here) that illustrated RW Ventures’ perspective on the role of data in informing practice and outlined a framework for organizing metrics based on five key economic levers.

10.03.2011-10.04.2011:  Initiative for a Competitive Inner City’s (ICIC) annual Inner City Economic Summit, “Urban 2.0: Next Generation of Jobs and Businesses,” featured a Town Hall Forum on “Targeting Distressed Economic Areas in the Age of Regionalism,” Teresa Lynch (ICIC) and Bob Weissbourd (RW Ventures) had a spirited discussion about the merits and drawbacks of focusing economic development efforts on the whole region versus distressed areas, and how to integrate the two. A video of the session is available here.

08.31.2011:  Cook County’s Economic Development Foundations Working Group invited Bob Weissbourd to present on opportunities for driving regional economic growth.  Weissbourd engaged the working group to explore ways in which Cook County could influence each of five economic levers by taking action in the County’s own businesses, in its economic development programs and through new initiatives and partnerships.  The presentation is available here.

06.01.2011:  Four US metropolitan areas were selected to participate in the second phase of the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Business Planning initiative, co-conceived and co-managed by RW Ventures.  Central Upstate New York (including Syracuse, Ithaca, Utica and Rome), the Bluegrass Economic Region (Louisville and Lexington, KY metro areas), metro Memphis and metro Phoenix will join the three first-round pilot regions (see 05.13.2010 news item) in developing analytically rigorous, bottom-up, integrated economic development strategies and undertaking detailed business planning for a concrete, implementable lead initiative.  A policy brief, co-authored by Brookings and RW Ventures, articulates the concept of the initiative.

04.11.2011: The Brookings Institution hosted the event, “Metropolitan Business Plans: A New Approach to Economic Growth,” to formally introduce the Metropolitan Business Planning initiative and showcase the first three pilot Metropolitan Business Plans (MBPs) and Metropolitan Investment Prospectuses.  RW Ventures has been a partner in the initiative since its inception, co-developing the concept and products, and leading work with the pilot metros on their plans.  Bob Weissbourd gave a presentation at the event on the concept (available here).  A second cohort of pilot metros will be selected and begin work during summer 2011.

03.22.2011: European and American experts on the complex issues facing cities gathered at the London School of Economics for their annual City Reformers Group Workshop.  Bob Weissbourd spoke about the financial and governance challenges facing cities, and discussed possible strategies to address them (presentation availablehere).  He also introduced workshop participants to a new approach to comprehensive regional economic development: Metropolitan Business Planning (presentation available here). 

01.17.2011: In conjunction with developing Portland’s 25-year plan, the Inspiring Community speaker series invited Bob Weissbourd to speak on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day about urban economies.  The presentation (speech and accompanying PowerPoint), called “Metro-Economics: Towards a Unified Field Theory,” begins to tie together the various pieces of economic development – from neighborhoods to regions, equity to prosperity, human capital to clusters – into a comprehensive, integrated, practical approach to metropolitan economic growth.

12.20.2010: A new web-based company created by CNT Energy and RW-Ventures, MyHomeEQ will help homeowners interested in improving their home energy efficiency to lower their costs and increase their home value. MyHomeEQ will provide customized recommendations for improvements and savings, connections to contractors, rebates and financing opportunities, and a standardized energy score for use in the marketplace. Building off of prior work, the new business is carefully designed to grow the market for home energy efficiency retrofits by using specialized data and models to address information barriers, dramatically reducing transaction costs and improving market efficiency. A sneak peek of MyHomeEQ is now available at

09.08.2010: The International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) granted the Distinguished Research and Development Award to the Cook County Assessor’s Office (CCAO) for their recent work with RW Ventures and Professor Chris Berry of the University of Chicago. The project, funded by the MacArthur Foundation, analyzed the impact of foreclosures on neighborhood property values (see news items from 3.16.2009, 9.25.2009 and 10.26.2009).  The team’s findings, implemented beginning with the 2009 reassessment cycle, allowed the CCAO to adjust its residential property assessment process to more accurately reflect current market conditions.

11.20.2006: On November 20th, The Cleveland Foundation hosted the Cleveland kickoff meeting for theDynamic Neighborhood Taxonomy project. The meeting of community, government, business, academic, foundation and other leaders introduced the project and presented preliminary findings on patterns of change in Cleveland neighborhoods. To find out more about the project, please register here.

11.02.2006: The Opportunity Finance Network has opened up a new dialogue on policies to make markets more effective and inclusive. At the OFN annual conference, "The Power of Opportunity," Bob Weissbourd presented a new framework for this policy discussion, which is also the topic of a paper soon to be released by OFN. The Power Point presentation from the conference can be found here.

10.24.2006: The Foundation for Community Empowerment hosted the Dallas kickoff meeting for the Dynamic Neighborhood Taxonomy project. The meeting, attended by a group of practitioners, academics and local government officials, was designed to introduce the Taxonomy project and gather feedback on preliminary findings for the Dallas repeat sales index. To find out more about the project, please register here.

10.23.2006: Market-based economic development and the Shorebank experience were the themes of the keynote address delivered by Bob Weissbourd at the second annual conference of the J. McDonald Williams Institute in Dallas. The same conference featured a panel on economic development policy and a presentationon market-based economic development.

06.11.2005: Bob Weissbourd is the special guest on Smart City,a weekly radio show that takes an in-depth look at urban life, the people, places, trends and ideas shaping cities. To listen to Bob's interview click here.

05.06.2005: Bob Weissbourd presents the policy and strategic implications of our work at the national meeting of CEOs for Cities. The presentation, "Seeing the Forest and the Trees," is available on CEOs for Cities web site, as well as under the Publications section of our site.

04.28.2005: Riccardo Bodini and Jim Rooney present The Changing Dynamics of Urban America at the Tampa Bay Partnership annual meeting.

03.30.2005: Knowledge plexhosts an online presentation of our new papers on market-based economic development. The slides and a streaming audio file of the presentation can be found here.

© 2005 RW Ventures, LLC