<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Chicago Business News - Money, Financial & Corporate News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/business http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Wed, 01 Oct 2014 22:15:40 -0500 Wed, 01 Oct 2014 22:15:40 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Hot Doug's Owner Doug Sohn Reveals Plans for Auction]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 11:13:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Doug_Sohn.jpg

Fans sporting a Hot Doug’s tattoo may already have a piece of the famous encased meat eatery with them forever, but for those not brave enough to ink their love for the Avondale hot dog stand, there may be another way to walk away with a sausage souvenir.

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Hot Doug’s owner Doug Sohn said he plans to auction off meaty memorabilia for charity. Details on when and where have not yet been revealed, but fans are sure to be chomping at the bit to take home part of the beloved restaurant at Roscoe and California.

Sohn also left some hope for fans as he prepares to serve his last Hot Doug’s meal Friday.

In the interview, Sohn noted that a pop-up restaurant isn’t off the table following the shocking closure of the beloved restaurant at Roscoe and California.

"I haven’t ruled that out," he said. "Like a one-night charity thing. Not saying I would, but I’d consider that."

Lines at the Avondale restaurant are longer than ever leading up the “permanent vacation.”

The hot dog stand has generated what some have called "cult fandom."

A man even proposed at the restaurant and had owner Doug Sohn ordain his wedding, and a number of followers got tattoos when it was announced that Sohn would give free meals for life to the questionable souls who inked their loyalty.

The restaurant will even live on in a movie as filmmakers plan to document its final days.

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<![CDATA[Madigan Opens Investigation Into Jimmy John's Breach]]> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 10:42:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/jimmy-johns-store.jpg

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Thursday warned residents who made purchases with their credit or debit cards at Jimmy John's to immediately be on the lookout for unauthorized charges on their accounts.

“Identity theft is a serious threat to consumers," Madigan said. "It’s critical to start incorporating extra precautions in your daily routine to limit the damage done as a result of a data breach.”

Madigan has opened an investigation into the security breach at 216 of the Champaign-based company's restaurants.
 
Jimmy John's said Wednesday that stores in 37 states, including Illinois, were affected by the breach that occurred between June 16 and Sept. 5.

It appears customers' credit and debit card data was compromised after someone stole log-in credentials from a point-of-sale vendor, and used the information to remotely access the systems at the individual stores, company officials said.

The security issue has been contained and the company said customers can continue using their credit and debit cards securely at Jimmy John’s stores. Third-party forensic experts have been brought in to assist with the investigation.

The restaurant chain is offering credit protection services to customers impacted by the breaks. Call 1-855-398-6442 for more information.
 
Madigan said Illinois residents also can call her office’s Identity Theft Hotline at 1-866-999-5630 for assistance.

Affected Chicago-area stores include:

    Chicago, 3234 W. Foster Ave.
    Chicago, 6451 W. Diversey Ave
    Chicago, 3328 North Clark St.
    Chicago, 1101 S. Canal St. Ste.
    Oakbrook Terrace, IL 18W 048 22nd St
    Glen Ellyn, 850 Roosevelt Rd.
    Homer Glen, 14110 Bell Rd.
    Naperville,19 W. Jefferson Ave.
    Lombard, 1235 South Main St
    Lombard, 2770 S. Highland Ave.
    Evergreen Park, 9451 S. Kedzie Ave.

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<![CDATA[Twitter Analysis Ranks Best and Worst Airlines]]> Mon, 22 Sep 2014 10:24:53 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/United-Continental-merger.jpg

Apparently, United Airlines travelers are uniting over their disappointment with the airline via Twitter.

According to recent data from text analysis startup Luminoso, the Chicago-based company has received some of the most complaints via social media.

An article on re/code reports Luminoso “used natural language processing technology to analyze more than 157,000 tweets directly mentioning five airplane handles” during the month of August to look at five major airlines, including United, jetBlue, American Airlines, Virgin America and Delta Airlines.

The results showed Virgin Airlines passengers were most pleased with their travels, followed by
jetBlue, Delta and American, while United Airlines customers complained more than others.

United had the lowest overall rating, with last-place rankings in categories like “delays/ cancellations” and “luggage,” but the results don’t necessarily mean United Airlines is the worst carrier.

The analysis is only a reflection of social media users’ sentiments over a short period of time, the study explains, and the results can easily be affected by weather or other news.

While the study may not show customer satisfaction on a large-scale level, it is clear that social media is being used by customers more frequently, and companies should pay attention to the feedback they receive on these sites.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Target 5: Investigating the Issues That Affect You Most]]> Tue, 08 May 2012 14:57:53 -0500 ]]> <![CDATA[$martMoney]]> Tue, 08 May 2012 09:08:56 -0500 ]]> <![CDATA[Airline Celebrates O'Hare Launch With $29 Airfare]]> Mon, 15 Sep 2014 18:32:54 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_042914_frontier.jpg

To celebrate the launch of its domestic service from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, Frontier Airlines is offering discounted tickets for one day only.

The fares go as low as $29 for one-way tickets from O’Hare to Atlanta, Cleveland, Denver, Orlando, Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Washington, D.C.      

The airline's inaugural flight to Washington took off Monday, and Frontier soon will offer non-stop flights to the above seven cities.

Frontier said the special demonstrates the company's commitment to "low fares done right."

Tickets must be purchased by 10:59 p.m. Monday for domestic, nonstop travel on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from Sept. 22, 2014, through Jan. 28, 2015. They can be purchased at FlyFrontier.com or by calling Frontier's reservations centers.

Blackout dates apply, and previously purchased tickets cannot be exchanged for special-fare tickets, according to the airline.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Is Giving Away Free Coffee Every Morning for Two Weeks]]> Mon, 15 Sep 2014 13:14:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/McDonalds13.jpg

McDonald’s is kicking off its second national Free Coffee Event Sept. 16 and cutting off the free java on International Coffee Day, Sept. 29.

In a statement released last week, McDonald’s announced that participating restaurants across the country will give guests a free small McCafé coffee for a two-week period during regular breakfast hours.

“We know our guests are busy, especially during the morning, and a free cup of coffee goes a long way in helping get their days started," said Greg Watson, the McDonald’s executive who oversees menu innovation.

McDonald’s costumers can also “sip and tell” their embarrassing pre-coffee moments on social media using the hashtag #SipandTell and @McCafe for chances to win custom gifts and other surprises.

Starting in early 2015, McCafé fans can drink their coffee at home, too. The fast-food chain recently announced it would collaborate with Kraft to offer McCafé ground, whole bean and single-cup coffees in grocery stores nationwide, joining retailers like Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks in selling branded packaged coffee.

McDonald’s first-ever Free Coffee Event was launched in March 2014, when the company gave away millions of cups of free coffee across the country.
 



Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
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<![CDATA[McDonald's Expands "Build-Your-Own-Burger" Test]]> Thu, 11 Sep 2014 21:18:03 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/179*120/mcdonalds+burger.jpg

Amid reports that younger generations are favoring fast-casual restaurants like Chipotle, McDonald’s is expanding its fast and casual way of ordering.

The Orange County Register reports that the world’s largest hamburger chain quietly served up the “build your own burger” ordering test to four more California restaurants.

The initial ordering test began in 2013 at locations in California and Illinois.

Earlier this year, Kevin Newell, U.S. brand and strategy officer for McDonald’s, said in an interview that the offering was a “huge driver,” but it remained unclear if the test could translate across the company’s broad network of restaurants.

McDonald’s culinary executive Dan Coudreaut told the Register the Oak Brook-based company is looking to see if customers will accept the new ordering system and that officials are hoping to see if customers are “willing to pay more” and give more time for a premium fast-casual style burger.

The program reportedly allows dine-in customers to choose from 22 different ingredients, including caramelized onions, grilled mushrooms, red onions, pepper jack cheese, thick cut apple-wood smoked bacon and sliced jalapenos.

A touch-screen tablet is used as a self-checkout option.

The Register reports a standard build-your-own burger costs 90 cents more than a Big Mac, with extra add-ons increasing the cost. The finished product, which takes approximately six minutes to make, is delivered by a server dressed in a black and white pin-striped apron.

It was not immediately clear if the company plans to expand the burger ordering system nationally.

News of the expansion comes after a report that millennials are choosing to eat at restaurants like Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. and Five Guys Holdings LLC, dubbed “fast-casual” eateries.

The report indicates younger diners are seeking out healthier options and customizable menus.

McDonald’s has already attempted to make waves in the younger market, once a prominent audience for the chain, by introducing healthier options and debuting apps and mobile pay options.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Trademarks Term "McBrunch"]]> Thu, 11 Sep 2014 15:49:09 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mcdonalds8.jpg

Craving a McGriddle at noon? Enter the “McBrunch.”

McDonald’s has filed a federal trademark registration for the term “McBrunch,” indicating a possible new meal program for the world’s largest hamburger chain.

While McDonald’s has not yet announced plans for a “McBrunch,” company spokesperson Terri Hickey said speculation about the concept is “entirely premature.”

“We routinely file intent to use trademark applications as a regular course of business,” Hickey told NBC Chicago. “We can’t share details at this time as to how the trademarks may or may not be used.”

News of the “McBrunch” was first reported by BurgerBusiness, which claims the Oak Brook-based fast food chain filed a trademark registration for the term in July.

This comes after a report that millennials aren’t munching on McDonald’s as much as they used to.

The company has also been working to build its breakfast component, stating that the meal program makes up roughly 20 percent of U.S. sales.
 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[2 Chicago Writers Join List of World's Top-Earning Authors]]> Thu, 11 Sep 2014 11:55:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Gone-Girl-Ben-Affleck.011714_copy.jpg

Two Chicago writers have joined the ranks of Forbes' top-earning authors in the world.

Veronica Roth, author of the “Divergent” trilogy, tied with three other top authors (Jeff Kinney, John Grisham and Stephen King) for sixth with a listed earning of $17 million.

Gillian Flynn, whose thriller “Gone Girl” hits the big screen next month, tied with ”The Fault in Our Stars” author John Green for No. 12 with a listed earning of $9 million. Green also made his debut on the list.

"In a ranking long-dominated by stalwarts like crime writer James Patterson and romance author Nora Roberts, these fresh ink spillers, two of whom write young adult fiction, rank thanks to the increasing commercial appeal of teen literature for readers of all ages," Natalie Robehmed writes for Forbes.

The top spots still go to well-known names. James Patterson leads the pack with $90 million, followed by Dan Brown with $28 million, Nora Roberts with $23 million and Danielle Steel with $22 million.

JK Rowling finished No. 8 with $14 million, and George R.R. Martin ranked No. 9 with $12 million.

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<![CDATA[50 Protesters Detained in Minimum Wage Rallies]]> Thu, 04 Sep 2014 16:49:18 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/McDonalds_arrests_9-4.jpg

Protests on Chicago's South Side and in Cicero resulted in 50 arrests Thursday.

Nineteen protesters were detained and cited Thursday morning after blocking an intersection at West 87th and South State streets in a continued fight for an increased minimum wage.

The assembly was among about 150 such protests planned around the nation. The fast food industry workers and their supporters want the ability to form a union and a minimum hourly pay of $15 per hour.

"We're definitely on the upward movement because we feel justice is on our side. They keep saying, 'Wait.' We can't wait. ComEd raised their rates three months ago. Food prices are constantly going up, and so we feel that we cannot wait. We're struggling to put food on the tables for our kids," said Douglas Hunter. "We work at a McDonald's at a restaurant where we can't even afford to eat the food that we sell, and we think this is ridiculous in a country as rich as America."

Protesters began gathering early Thursday morning with an official event kicking off at about 8:30 a.m. It started peacefully but some then blocked the roadway and ignored officers' calls to disperse. Some were seen being placed into squad cars.

Around 300 protesters held another rally later in the day in Cicero at 29th and Cicero Avenue.

Cicero Police say 31 people were arrested and charged for disrupting traffic and placing themselves in harm's way. The protesters reportedly sat in the center of the road and blocked traffic.

A city-issued news release said Cicero Town President Larry Dominick and other local leaders support the state's efforts to raise the minimum wage and offered to work with the demonstrators to find a safter place to protest, but organizers refused.

The "Fight for 15" campaign has the support of The Service Employees International Union and several politicians, including Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who planned on join a protest outside a McDonald's restaurant near West 29th Street and South Cicero Avenue after midday.

In a statement, McDonald's corporate spokeswoman Lisa McComb said the company supports paying "fair wages aligned with a competitive marketplace," adding that any increase needs to be considered in a broad context that considers "the impact of the Affordable Care Act and its definition of "full time" employment, as well as the treatment, from a tax perspective, of investments made by businesses owners."

"It's important to know approximately 90 percent of our U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by franchisees who set wages according to job level and local and federal laws," McComb said. "McDonald's does not determine wages set by our more than 3,000 U.S. franchisees."

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday signed an executive order raising the minimum wage for city contractors and subcontractors to $13/hour.

Gov. Pat Quinn supports raising the state's minimum wage from $8.25 an hour to at least $10 per hour. He vowed to live this week on minimum wage, telling reporters he's eating graham crackers for dinner.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order earlier this year to raise the wage for federal contractors.


This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Emanuel Signs Minimum Wage Executive Order]]> Wed, 03 Sep 2014 21:52:39 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rahm-minimum-wage.jpg

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday signed an executive order requiring city contractors and subcontractors to pay employees a $13-an-hour minimum wage.

Officials said it will apply to city contractors advertised after Oct. 1 and will affect about 1,000 contracted employees. Those would include landscapers, maintenance workers, security officers and custodial workers.

"It creates a floor so you can afford a family and be able to give your children the life that they deserve," Emanuel said at Environmental Design International, at 33 West Monroe Street.

The mayor in July introduced a city ordinance that would gradually increase the minimum wage in Chicago to $13 an hour. The action drew praise from the president of SEIU Local 1, Tom Balanoff.

A panel called the Minimum Wage Working Group said the higher wages would increase earnings for about 410,000 people -- or 31 percent of Chicago workers -- and inject nearly $800 million into the Chicago economy.

Gov. Pat  Quinn supports raising the state's minimum wage from $8.25 an hour to at least $10 per hour. He vowed to live this week on minimum wage, telling reporters he's eating graham crackers for dinner.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order earlier this year to raise the wage for federal contractors.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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<![CDATA[Garrett Popcorn Sued Over "Chicago Mix"]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 15:14:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/246*120/garretts+edit.jpg

Chicagoans who are fans of Garrett Popcorn won’t be calling one of the gourmet popcorn shop’s most popular mixes the “Chicago Mix” anymore.

The popcorn icon is among three companies targeted in lawsuits from Candyland Inc., a St. Paul-based company that filed federal trademark infringement lawsuits last month.

The suit alleges the companies have wrongly branded their popcorn confections Chicago Mix, which the company trademarked in 1992.

Also named in the suits are Waukegan-based Cornfields Inc. and O-ke-doke popcorn maker Snyder’s-Lance Inc.

In the suit, Candyland claims it requested the companies stop using the name, but none did.

“It’s the larger companies that don’t want to,” said Candyland Co-Owner Brenda Lamb. “They’re the ones we’re having issues with.”

Garrett Popcorn, owned by CaramelCrisp LLC, says it is currently changing the name of its Chicago Mix to Garrett Mix, a process they say they started before the lawsuit was filed.

“Garrett Popcorn Shops is expanding into new markets and proactively started transitioning away from calling its world famous CheeseCorn and CaramelCrisp flavor ‘Chicago Mix’ to the more ownable ‘Garrett Mix,’” the company said in a statement. “And this transition began prior to any lawsuit due to countless brands now using the Chicago Mix name on what Garrett Popcorn Shops feels is a product vastly inferior to ours. These are mostly pre-packed brands found in supermarkets and drug stores. No matter the name – no one in the world delivers Handcrafted Happiness the way we do.”

The shop’s website now features their trademarked “Garrett Mix” where Chicago Mix once was.

While Garrett’s recipe includes caramel and cheese popcorn, Candyland’s Chicago Mix adds in traditionally seasoned popcorn.

Lamb said it’s not the recipe that’s the problem, it’s the name.

“It’s a matter of they’re taking a name," she said. "They’re using a name that they shouldn’t be because we’re the ones that have it federally trademarked."

As for why the Minnesota company chose to name the signature mix after Chicago, Lamb said it was more of a marketing strategy, calling Chicago the “popcorn capital of the U.S.”

“I didn’t know it was going to be a problem,” she said. “If you called it St. Paul or Minneapolis people out of state might not have paid attention. I thought it would be much more noticed when I put the name on it.”

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<![CDATA[Market Basket Board OKs $1.5 Billion Sale to Ousted CEO]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 22:49:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Market+Basket.jpg

Market Basket's board of directors has signed a deal to sell the grocery chain to former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas for more than $1.5 billion, following months of massive employee protests and customer boycotts over his June ouster.

Market Basket and Arthur T. Demoulas confirmed just after 11 p.m. that shareholders had agreed to a deal to give Arthur T.'s faction a majority stake — 50.5 percent ownership — in the company. Sources had previously confirmed the deal to NECN's Josh Brogadir and Peter Howe.

"Effective immediately, Arthur T. Demoulas is returning to Market Basket with day-to-day operational authority of the company," the company and new owner said in a statement.

Employees and customers started a boycott earlier this summer after Demoulas' firing, leading to bare shelves and little business for the New England supermarket chain.

Current co-CEOs Felicia Thorton and Jim Gooch are staying in place pending the closing, which is expected to happen in the next several months. Arthur T. and his management team are returning during the interim period as the company's purchased is finished, the statement said. Arthur T. also said that all employees are welcome back to work to help "restore the Company back to normal operations."

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan said in a joint statement they are "delighted that the parties have reached agreement on terms of sale and resolution of operating authority, so that employees can return to work and customers once again will be able to rely on these stores to meet their needs."

Market Basket's board of directors fired Arthur T. and two other top executives on June 23. On July 15, executives at the company's headquarters in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, started calling for Arthur T.'s reinstatement. More than 2,000 employees rallied outside of Market Basket's headquarters on July 18, and the company fired eight employees who led the demonstration two days later. The rallies spread to the stores the next day, and continued at stores and headquarters for weeks.

The board of directors said in a statement late Wednesday that their shared goal now "is to return Market Basket to the supermarket that its customers have come to rely on for service, quality and best prices."

"We look forward to seeing you at your local Market Basket," the statement reads.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

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<![CDATA["Millennial" Market Not Lovin' McDonald's: Report]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 13:51:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/McDonalds-Blitz-Box.jpg

It looks like millennials aren’t munching on McDonald’s as much as they used to.

Customers in their 20s and 30s are choosing to dine elsewhere, particularly at “fast-casual” restaurants like Chipotle and Five Guys, according to demographics reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The report indicates younger diners are seeking out healthier options and customizable menus, creating a hurdle for McDonald's as it grapples with one of its worst slumps in the last decade.

According to the data, the percentage of customers age 19 to 21 who visited McDonald’s monthly has fallen by 12.9 percentage points since 2011, and the percentage of customers age 22 to 37 visiting the chain in the same period stayed flat.

In turn, the percentage of customers in those age groups visiting fast-casual restaurants monthly during that same time period grew by 2.3 and 5.2 percentage points.

It’s a trend that the world’s largest hamburger chain has been trying to overcome after a reported global decline.

The Illinois-based chain reported earlier this month that a key sales figure fell 2.5 percent in July, due in part to persistent weakness in the U.S.

While the company attributes a 7.3 drop in an international unit encompassing Asia, the Middle East and Africa to a recent food safety scandal in China, changing food habits could be the culprit for the 3.2 percent drop in the U.S.

Chains like Chipotle, for instance, are gaining favor by touting more wholesome ingredients and the ability to customize food.

Last month, McDonald’s ranked last for burger taste in a Consumer Reports survey of 32,405 subscribers. Respondents in the survey continuously favored the so-called fast casual restaurants over some of the mega-chains like McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Burger King.

“Fast-casual dining in places like Chipotle and Panda Express lets the consumer guide the staff to prepare their meal just the way they like it,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, a food-service research and consulting firm that compiled the data for the Wall Street Journal.

McDonald’s is attempting to make waves in the younger market, once a prominent audience for the chain, by introducing healthier options and debuting apps and mobile pay options.

McDonald’s Global Chief Brand Officer Steve Easterbrook told the Wall Street Journal the millennial generation is “promiscuous in their brand loyalty,” making it more difficult to earn their loyalty. 

Easterbrook cited a wider range of choices for the shift in preference for younger generations.

The chain has also noted menu issues and cited financial struggles for lower-income customers as reasons for the U.S. drop.

McDonald's CEO Don Thompson said the company complicated its menu and slowed down service by introducing too many items too quickly. He said the company is working on getting the basics right — such as improving service.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA["Millennial" Market Not Lovin' McDonald's: Report]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 11:02:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/McDonalds-Blitz-Box.jpg

It looks like millennials aren’t munching on McDonald’s as much as they used to.

According to demographics reported by the Wall Street Journal, customers in their 20s and 30s are choosing to dine elsewhere, particularly at “fast-casual” restaurants like Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. and Five Guys Holdings LLC.

The report indicates younger diners are seeking out healthier options and customizable menus, causing a hurdle for McDonald's as it grapples with one of its worst slumps in the last decade.

According to the data, the percentage of customers age 19 to 21 who visited McDonald’s monthly has fallen by 12.9 percentage points since 2011 and the percentage of customers age 22 to 37 visiting the chain in the same period remained stagnant.

In turn, the percentage of customers in those age groups visiting fast-casual restaurants monthly during that same time period grew by 2.3 and 5.2 percentage points.

It’s a trend that the world’s largest hamburger chain has been trying to overcome after a reported global decline.

The Oak Brook-based chain reported earlier this month that a key sales figure fell 2.5 percent in July, due in part to persistent weakness in the U.S.

While the company attributes a 7.3 drop in an international unit encompassing Asia, the Middle East and Africa to a recent food safety scandal in China, changing food habits could be the culprit for the 3.2 percent drop in the U.S.

Chains like Chipotle, for instance, are gaining favor by touting more wholesome ingredients and the ability to customize food.

Last month, McDonald’s ranked last for burger taste in a Consumer Reports survey of 32,405 subscribers. Respondents in the survey continuously favored the so-called fast casual restaurants over some of the mega-chains like McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Burger King.

“Fast-casual dining in places like Chipotle and Panda Express lets the consumer guide the staff to prepare their meal just the way they like it,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, a food-service research and consulting firm that compiled the data for the Wall Street Journal.

McDonald’s is attempting to make waves in the younger market, once a prominent audience for the chain, by introducing healthier options and debuting apps and mobile pay options.

McDonald’s Global Chief Brand Officer Steve Easterbrook told the Wall Street Journal the millennial generation is “promiscuous in their brand loyalty,” making it more difficult to earn their loyalty.
Easterbrook cited a wider range of choices for the shift in preference for younger generations.

The chain has also noted menu issues and cited financial struggles for lower-income customers as reasons for the U.S. drop.

McDonald's CEO Don Thompson said the company complicated its menu and slowed down service by introducing too many items too quickly. He said the company is working on getting the basics rights — such as improving service.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Company Peddles Soda "Pot"]]> Mon, 25 Aug 2014 10:34:14 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/soda-pot.jpg 08/25/14: A bottler in Washington is using that state's new marijuana law to create a new category of THC treats. Reggie Aqui from NBC station KGW reports.]]> <![CDATA[Spotlight: Grainger's Paul Miller]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 15:20:04 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Paul-Miller-Grainger.jpg Grainger may be an 85-year-old company, but VP of eCommerce, Paul Miller, shows how the company manages to innovate in a digital world.]]> <![CDATA[What the Workplace Could Look Like in 2022]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 14:20:54 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/employmentgeneric.jpg

The future of the workplace could look a lot more like 1984.

Consulting firm PwC published its predictions for work in 2022 and some of the outcomes, while jarring, might not be too far-fetched.

Based on interviews with 500 human resource experts and 10,000 people in China, India, Germany, the UK and the U.S., the report details how developments in the workplace will affect the future of people management.

Researchers from PwC and the James Martin Institute for Science and Civilisation at the Said Business School in Oxford have projected three possible workplace developments which they call “three worlds of work.”

One world, titled the “Blue World,” predicts big company capitalism rules as organization continues to grow bigger and individual preferences trump beliefs about social responsibility.

“The data profiling that drives customer management will increasingly be replicated among employees as screening and monitoring move to a new level,” researchers wrote. “Sensors check their location, performance and health. The monitoring may even stretch into their private lives in an extension of today’s drug tests.”

Among the monitoring of private lives would be frequent health screenings to allow “real-time monitoring of health, with proactive health guidance and treatment to enable staff to perform more efficiently, reduce sick leave and work for more years before needing to retire.”

Researchers suggest that in exchange for handing over such data to employers, employees will have better job security.

This dystopian prediction might not be such a far-fetched idea when considering the monitoring technological advances have allowed and will continue to allow as innovation continues.

The study found that three out of 10 participants, many of them younger in age, would be happy for their employers to have access to their personal data and 44 percent of survey respondents felt the most important thing in a job was job security.

Other “worlds” listed in the study include the “Green World,” which predicts consumers and employees will force change, encouraging companies to develop a “powerful social conscience and green sense of responsibility” and the “Orange World,” where global business fragment and technology empowers a “low impact, high-tech business model.”

“The effectiveness with which your organization plans people management for the long-term will be critical to its long-term viability, ensuring you have the right people, with the right skills, in the right places to realize your evolving goals. Think too much in the short-term and you may find yourself on the back foot, unable to catch up with sudden shifts in your marketplace,” researchers wrote.

While it’s not clear which world, if any, will become the new workplace, researchers suggest that the need to adapt will be key to any company’s survival.

"No exploration of the future of work could ever be definitive," Michael Rendell, head of PwC, wrote in the study. "Indeed, one of the defining characteristics of our age is its ability to surprise and confound. However, while things happen that we cannot predict, we can still be prepared."



Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS]]>
<![CDATA[2013 Marathon Economic Impact Exceeded $250M]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 11:45:30 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chi+marathon+start.jpg

The 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon generated more than $253 million worth of economic activity for the area, race officials announced Thursday.

It was the first time in the marathon's 36 years that business activity exceeded $250 million. The 2012 race, by comparison, brought $243.46 million worth of activity to the local economy.

"Exceeding $250 million for the first time underscores not only the significance of the economic and tourist activity the race brings to the city, but also supports the fact that the Marathon has a personal connection to everyone involved, whether a runner, spectator, business owner, or charity," Tim Maloney, the president Bank of America Illinois, said in a written statement.

The independent study of the 2013 race, conducted by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Regional Economics Applications Laboratory, found it directly contributed to an estimated
$101.8 million to Chicago's tourism industry.

Don Welsh, the president of Choose Chicago, the city's tourism arm, called the marathon a "demand generator that helps foster increased visitation from around the globe, adding that 25 percent of visitors to the city for the 2013 race were in Chicago for the first time.

"Fifty six percent of participants say their motivation was to run through one of the most beautiful cities in the world," he said.

The 2013 race drew 40,900 race participants, with 17 percent of them coming from areas outside the United States.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Ranks Second for Fast-Growing Businesses]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 16:36:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chicago+skyline+generic.jpg

Chicagoans mean business.

They mean so much business that city companies snagged 95 spots on the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies, second only to New York’s 205.

Chicago beat out top start-up hubs like San Francisco, which was ranked No. 7 with 63 companies. The second-place ranking is a step up for the city after coming in fourth last year.

Rounding out the top five cities on the list were Atlanta, Austin, Texas and San Diego.

California-based Fuhu, maker of an Android tablet for kids, took the number one spot for the second year in a row thanks to a growth rate of 158,957 percent over the last three years, a rare feat for the Inc. 5000.

This year's rankings are considered to be one of the most competitive in the list's history with companies needing to achieve a minimum of 918.59 percent in sales growth in the last three years.

The highest ranking Windy City company was MAX Digital, developer of a cloud-based marketing and retailing software for automotive dealers, which was ranked at No. 51 for a three-year growth rate of 5,483 percent. The company recorded a revenue of $6.6 million in 2013.

"Thanks to a great team we have been able to provide cutting edge technologies that are transforming traditional industry in consumer centric ways," said MAX Digital Founder and CEO Pat Ryan. "We look forward to even greater growth and innovation in the years ahead."

MAX Digital was also the third-fastest growing software company on the list.

"It's a tribute to the great work ethic and opportunities in the city of Chicago that has made them thrive on this very competitive list,"  Inc. Media President and Editor In Chief Eric Schurenberg said in a statement. " What surprises me, even though I know it’s coming, is the sheer variety of the paths our entrepreneurs take to success, thematically reflecting how our economy has evolved."

Eight other city companies ranked among the top 500 on the list, including:

  1. Insureon (No. 107)
  2. Paramount Lodging Advisors (No. 188)
  3. Protein Bar (No. 200)
  4. Restaurantware (No. 366)
  5. AKTA (No. 414)
  6. Response Team 1 (No. 422)
  7. RIPT Apparel (No. 441)
  8. Framework Communications (No. 442)

In addition to the nine Chicago companies, 10 suburban companies were listed among the top 500, with Elgin-based Compass Automation leading the group at no. 55.

Following Compass Automation was:

  1. LaunchPoint (No. 100)
  2. Market6 (No. 143)
  3. Total Technology Solutions Group (No. 148)
  4. Forte International Tax (No. 167)
  5. Blue Star Tec (HNo. 221)
  6. Ameez Technologies (No. 370)
  7. Four Seasons Home Services (No. 393)
  8. Startex Industries (No. 397)
  9. Strategic Mobility Group (No. 496)

Howard Tullman, CEO of Chicago's 1871 tech incubator, said the results confirm Chicago is a "prime place for entrepreneurs."

The Inc results confirm that we're building solid businesses, creating "innovative products and services that are generating steady revenue, adding new jobs, and fostering growth across the economy," he said in a statement.

Illinois ranked sixth for states with the most companies on the list, leading the Midwest with 238. California topped the list with 694 companies, Texas followed with 404, New York with 335, Florida with 202 and Virginia with 284.

“There is great momentum building among Chicago’s small and medium sized businesses," World Business Chicago President & CEO Jeff Malehorn said in a statement. "Companies thrive here due to the city’s diverse economy, easy access to the world, and unmatched talent base."

For the full list of Inc. 5000 companies, click here.

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<![CDATA[Hostess Closing Schiller Park Twinkie Plant, Again]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 15:43:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/hostess-twinkies-156458828.jpg

Hostess Brands announced Wednesday it has decided to close its Schiller Park bakery, less than two years after the location originally was set to close as Hostess entered bankruptcy.

The Illinois bakery, which produced Twinkies since the 1930s, is expected to close in October. About 400 employees will be affected.

The company said the decision was made to "enhance its production and distribution capabilities and efficiencies."

"Hostess has brought these great brands back to the marketplace," CEO Bill Toler said in a statement. "We have invested heavily in all facilities to improve worker conditions and efficiencies in a very highly competitive environment and marketplace."

The company reopened the Schiller Park last July after Hostess was purchased by Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo Global Management LLC.

Since then, Hostess says the competition that emerged during its bankruptcy has continued to be more fierce than expected.

"While the old Hostess company was in bankruptcy," Toler said, "many competitors took over the shelves and are tenaciously defending their business and thus we must be highly efficient and technologically advanced to compete. As a result, we have invested in more efficient production capabilities and need to streamline our manufacturing infrastructure and protect our ability to compete."

The location is one of four remaining bakeries and the last in Illinois.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[United Airlines to Offer Uber Service on Mobile App]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 11:49:03 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/451565438.jpg

Looks like United Airlines is hopping aboard the Uber bandwagon.

The Chicago-based airline company announced Wednesday that it has teamed up with the ridesharing service by adding Uber to the United mobile app.

Uber information will appear on the United App, which will show options including available vehicles, estimated wait times and prices. After a customer selects a ride, they will be transferred to the Uber app or website to sign up for an account and complete the transaction.

Customers who sign up for Uber via the United app will receive 1,000 MileagePlus award miles, the company said.

“Our partnership with Uber offers customers new opportunities to simplify their travel experience,” said Praveen Sharma, United’s vice president of loyalty. “Customers can use the app to ensure a more convenient journey, from checking in for an international flight from their home or office to finding instant ground transportation options at their final destination.”

The news comes just one day before TripAdvisor announced a partnership with Uber to add the ridesharing service to its app as well.

It also comes on the same day the taxi-alternative service announced it was hiring former White House adviser David Plouffe to lead its campaign for acceptance in the cities where it operates.

Uber has faced challenges in the Chicago-area this year as the company continues to fight a recently-passed bill that regulates ride-share businesses.

Some officials claim the bill is intended to ensure "basic consumer protections" for Illinoisans, while Uber supporters say the bill protects and encourages a "taxi monopoly."

Earlier this year, uberX was denied access to pick up passengers from O'Hare and Midway airports in Chicago.

The decision came after the Illinois Transportation Association asked the city to look into what it called Uber's "unregulated airport pickups."

Uber's regular taxis and black cars are still allowed to pick up customers at the airport.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Apple Could be Considering Mag Mile Move]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 10:38:27 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Apple_ipad-chicago-11-1.jpg

Apple Inc. could be plugging in at a new location on Michigan Avenue in the future.

The California company’s flagship store in Chicago currently sits at 679 N. Michigan Ave., but Crain’s Chicago Business, citing sources familiar with the North Michigan Avenue retail market, reports that the company has hired brokers to find a potential alternative.

Among the scouted locations the firm has reportedly looked at were the Topshop store at 830 N. Michigan Ave. and the former Saks store at 717 N. Michigan Ave.

While the move is merely speculation, it could be prompted by a number of things.

The storefront is 11 years old and could be seen as outdated when compared to other flagship stores like one of the company’s New York locations, which has customers walk in through a glass box.

Crain’s also reports that the location scouting could be a tactic to give Apple leverage during negotiations for a new lease with its landlord, real estate firm Water Tower Realty Co.

Apple would be a valuable tenant for many landlords in the area.

The company’s North Avenue location on the city’s North Side has been hailed for its retail value after moving into the site of a former gas station in the wildly congested North & Clybourn corridor.

Greg Merdinger, a veteran Chicago developer, tells Crain’s the store “made the location,” turning it from good to great.

Apple Inc. could not immediately be reached for comment.

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<![CDATA[Ballmer Leaves Microsoft Board]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 21:58:14 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/216*120/Steve+Ballmer+Clips+1.JPG

Steve Ballmer on Tuesday left Microsoft's Board of Directors, citing new commitments as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, a day after publicly stepping into his role with the team.

"The fall will be hectic between teaching a new class and the start of the NBA season so my departure from the board is effective immediately," Ballmer wrote in his resignation letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. "I see a combination of the Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking a lot of time."

Ballmer, who handed off the reins as CEO to Nadella in February, expressed confidence in the company’s future and said he is proud that "Microsoft has been my life's work."

"I bleed Microsoft -- have for 34 years and I always will," he wrote.

Ballmer bought the Clippers from Shelly Sterling, wife of former owner Donald Sterling, for $2 billion in May.

The deal was approved by the NBA and finalized Aug. 12 after a tumultuous court battle between the Sterlings.

Shelly Sterling said last week she is "thrilled that the Clippers now have such a wonderful new owner."

Ballmer introduced himself to thousands of Clippers fans on Monday during an energetic rally at the Staples Center that also featured several players and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti. Ballmer promised to keep the team in LA and to usher in an era of many victories.

"This is an amazing new day in Clippers history," Coach Doc Rivers said at the rally. "I couldn't be more excited to work together with Steve as we continue to build a first-class, championship organization."

In a response to Ballmer's resignation letter Tuesday, Nadella thanked Ballmer for his time at the company and wished him success.

"I am sure that you will bring the same boldness, passion and impact to your new endeavors that you brought to Microsoft," Nadella wrote.

Ballmer remains a shareholder at Microsoft.

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<![CDATA[McDonald's to Sell Packaged Coffee in Supermarkets: Report]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 12:42:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/216*120/050509+McCafe+Picture+p11.jpg

Fans of McCafe will be lovin’ the latest McDonald’s news.

The fast food chain announced plans to start selling its packaged coffee at supermarkets across the nation by early next year, the Associated Press reported.

The company reportedly made a deal with Kraft Foods to manufacture and distribute bags of ground and whole bean McCafe coffee, joining other retailers like Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks in the sale of branded packaged coffee. They will also sell single-cup pods for in-home coffee machines, according to the AP.

The world’s biggest hamburger chain debuted its McCafe product line, which includes coffees and other drinks, in the U.S. in 2009.

The chain has since redesigned the coffee cup to make it more appealing for customers and even released flavored lattes.

Earlier this year, the Oak Brook-based company highlighted the coffee line as a leading contributor in the company’s breakfast market, using it to draw morning customers during a two week-long coffee giveaway program.

McDonald’s Corp. and Kraft Foods reportedly began testing the packaged coffee in select markets last year.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

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<![CDATA[McDonald's to Sell Packaged Coffee in Supermarkets]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 12:22:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/216*120/050509+McCafe+Picture+p11.jpg

Fans of McCafe will be lovin’ the latest McDonald’s news.

The fast food chain announced plans to start selling its packaged coffee at supermarkets across the nation by early next year, the Associated Press reported.

The company reportedly made a deal with Kraft Foods to manufacture and distribute bags of ground and whole bean McCafe coffee, joining other retailers like Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks in the sale of branded packaged coffee. They will also sell single-cup pods for in-home coffee machines, according to the AP.

The world’s biggest hamburger chain debuted its McCafe product line, which includes coffees and other drinks, in the U.S. in 2009.

The chain has since redesigned the coffee cup to make it more appealing for customers and even released flavored lattes.

Earlier this year, the Oak Brook-based company highlighted the coffee line as a leading contributor in the company’s breakfast market, using it to draw morning customers during a two week-long coffee giveaway program.

McDonald’s Corp. and Kraft Foods reportedly began testing the packaged coffee in select markets last year.

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<![CDATA[Inside Defcon: What Happens at the Annual Hacker Convention]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 13:35:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*213/Defcon-poster-p1.jpg

Ruben Santamarta sauntered into our Las Vegas hotel suite looking more like a sleep-deprived 32-year-old than a highly-regarded international security researcher.

He’s not thrilled with the culture in this desert oasis.

“Too hot, too many parties,” Santamarta, who’s here to deliver a speech, told us in broken English.

The Spanish hacker and his press agent Craig Brophy are in high demand at the myriad of parties going on around Black Hat and Defcon, two conferences that make up a week dedicated to the art and science of hacking.

Santamarta hit parties for Facebook, Google, Rapid 7 and IOActive, among others, but he really just wants to give his talks and then vacation with his girlfriend in Los Angeles.

Why the interest? Santamarta recently released cutting-edge research on how he was able to hack into an airplane navigational system via the airplane’s inflight Wi-Fi signal and entertainment system. The Spaniard also published a 25-page report called “A Wake-up Call for SATCOM Security,” that provided details on what he said were multiple vulnerabilities in firmware used in satellite communications, including aviation, military, maritime transportation, energy and even media communications.

We caught up with the Madrid-based IOActive security researcher right after he spoke at Black Hat, a high-end security conference geared toward corporations, security professionals and FBI types. It costs about $3,000 to get in the door. 

The topic of Satellite vulnerabilities alone was enough to raise concern within the security industry and earn adoration within the hacking world.

Santamarta is something of a rock star. He’s got fans and followers. Many of those acolytes descended on Las Vegas for a chance to see him speak at the Black Hat convention.

Thousands more who want to emulate his skills were in town for Defcon – a very different type of security conference that’s held the first week of August in Las Vegas and stands in stark contrast to the high-priced corporate event.

Nearly 16,000 eager hackers of all ages showed up for Defcon 22 at the Rio Hotel. Some of the attendees include white hat hackers (good guys) and black hats (unscrupulous guys). These hackers mingle with National Security Agents (NSA) and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agents and other government guys who listen to the speeches, but really want to recruit talent.

The Defcon conference, which is the ultimate assembly of paranoia, costs $220 in cash. No credit cards. No debit cards. No real names.  These are hackers after all, and nothing electronic is safe from the prying eyes of their sniffer programs – bots whose only purpose is to latch onto your personal data.

We were told to put our IDs, credit cards and other chip-embedded cards in some form of protective RFID shielding case while at the conference.

A fast food restaurant nearby the hotel was hacked while we were there. And one Rio hotel staffer told us that employees there were warned not to bring their cell phones, credit cards or anything else for the four-day conference because they could be breached.

For those looking for a Defcon souvenir that has not been hacked from someone, the chaotic vendor area has it all: artists hawking Defcon T-Shirts, security companies pitching the latest and greatest hacking equipment, how-to books and lockpicking kits. And this year an unexpected participant was Tesla, apparently looking to recruit some computer geniuses.

Participants must go through a rigorous review panel of their peers, before earning a coveted spot to speak at Defcon. And while the speeches are a highlight of the event, there are plenty of other unique and unusual things to do at Defcon.

To be precise, there is a lot of hacking to do.

Organizers of Defcon like to challenge attendees with puzzles – either to hone their skills or perhaps to distract them from infiltrating nearby sandwich shops. The first puzzle comes in the form of the coveted electronic Defcon22 badge.

The Defcon conference badge is a miniature circuit board, which lights up in various sequences and many hackers spend the entire conference trying to “crack” the code on the badge.

The most prestigious challenge to win at Defcon is Capture The Flag (CTF). Attendees call it the World Series of hacking and not everyone can play. Competitors must pre-qualify in order to play.

Teams of hackers try to attack other team’s computers by solving complex codes, while also defending their own computer, each time gaining or losing a flag. Many of these hard-core hackers are known as the superstars in the hacking world. And the game is taken so seriously, that many of these players don’t leave the Capture the Flag Village the entire conference. The winners are awarded no cash but the coveted black badge that allows them free entry to Defcon for life.

One guy that some would argue should have a pass for life: Ruben Santamarta.

The unassuming humble hacker who has no idea that he has groupies and that his fan base includes everyone from university professors to aspiring hackers. 



Photo Credit: Eddie Mize
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<![CDATA[Jewel-Osco Computers Hit by Hackers]]> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 22:46:03 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP985800088575.jpg

Hackers tried to snag credit card data from Jewel-Osco computers but there was no evidence as of Friday morning that any customer information was obtained, company officials said.

According to Jewel's parent company, AB Acquisition LLC, the unauthorized access appears to have started June 22 and ended on July 17 of this year.

The breach affected all Jewel-Osco stores in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa. Data may also have been obtained from cards used at stores carrying the following brands: Albertson's, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher's, Shop 'n Save,  Shoppers Food & Pharmacy, ACME Markets, Shaw's, and Star Markets.

Information technology services are provided to the stores by Supervalu.

"We understand the inconvenience and concern an incident like this can cause, and we deeply regret that our customers’ data was targeted," said Mark Bates, the company's chief information officer, in a statement posted to JewelOsco.com.

Although it hadn't yet been determined whether any cardholder data was in fact stolen, and there was no evidence to date of any misuse of such data, the company offered customers whose payment cards may have been affected 12 months of complimentary consumer identity protection services through AllClear ID. Beginning at 3 p.m. CT Friday, concerned customers can call AllClear ID at 1-855-865-4449.

Updated information will be posted to JewelOsco.com, the company said.

The intrusion is just the latest in a string of data breaches at major retailers.

Earlier this month, Target said that expenses tied to a breach leading up to last year's holiday shopping season could reach as high as $148 million. The incident led to a major shakeup and CEO Gregg Steinhafel resigned.

Restaurant operator P.F. Chang's confirmed in June that data from credit and debit cards used at its restaurants was stolen.

There have been smaller breaches at Neiman Marcus and Michaels Stores Inc., and even at Goodwill.

There are currently efforts underway to change the technology used in credit and debit cards to make consumer information more secure.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Yelp Opens Office in Merchandise Mart ]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 15:29:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Yelp+Generic+Screengrab.jpg

A San Francisco-based business review site is bringing jobs Chicago.

Yelp announced the opening of its new 50,000-square foot headquarters in Merchandise Mart.
Within the next 12 to 18 months, the company is looking to hire up to 300 people, mostly for sales positions.

"Yelp is an exciting company that has become globally recognized for supporting local business, the backbone of Chicago's economy, and we welcome them to the city," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement.

The company will move into its new downtown office in January 2015.

Yelp chose Merchandise Mart because its location  -- given the proximity near the CTA train and the Chicago River -- may be good for commuters, local businesses and restaurants.

The company currently has offices in New York; London; Hamburg, Germany; Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Dublin, Ireland. Merchandise Mart also houses other tech companies like 1871 and Razorfish.

"Chicago’s history as a leader in innovation and supporter of small business and tech industry growth fits seamlessly with Yelp’s initiatives, and we are excited to build a home here with Yelp’s seventh office,” said Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp's co-founder and CEO.

The company had a monthly average of 138 million unique visitors in the 2014 second quarter.

 

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<![CDATA[Chicago Tops 2014 List of U.S. Meeting Destinations]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 13:16:39 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*160/104992627722171095108361814961537n.jpg

The Second City took the top spot on a event management firm's 2014 list of top U.S. destinations for meeting and events, but the city's investments in infrastructure and hotel may not be the top driver.

Rather, a spokesman for Cvent, which published the rankings on Wednesday, said the primary factor appears to be location, location, location.

"Across several metrics, we have seen more booking and interest in Midwestern and other centrally located cities during the past 12 months," said Bharet Malhotra.

In a release, Cvent said it evaluated more than 5,000 U.S. cities featured on the Cvent Supplier Network to compile the third annual list. Activity was tracked from July 2013 to June 2014 and the ranking was then determined by a set of qualifying criteria consisting of:

  • Unique Request For Proposals Received
  • Total Room Nights
  • Awarded Request For Proposals
  • Awarded Room Nights
  • Percentage of Qualified Meeting Venues
  • Number of Profile Views

“I am pleased that Cvent has confirmed what we in Chicago have always said to be true - that when you invest in transportation and infrastructure, and provide access to world-class restaurants, hotels and entertainment, business will follow," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. "When it comes to meetings and events especially, our city provides unparalleled access to the airports and transportation hubs that allow people from across the country to visit this most American of American cities and this ranking is a reflection of that. Making sure that Chicago is a premier destination for events is critical to our plan for growing Chicago’s economy and creating jobs for today and into the future.”

Chicago came in at the No. 1 spot, up from second place last year and fifth place in 2012. Central cities New Orleans and Nashville climbed into the top 10 ranking this year, both moving up several spots from last year.

The full list is posted on Cvent.com.




Photo Credit: chicagoaintcool/Instagram]]>