<![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 Sat, 30 Aug 2014 15:16:46 -0500 Sat, 30 Aug 2014 15:16:46 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![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[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[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]]>
<![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]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Left Off List of Best U.S. Craft Breweries]]> Tue, 05 Aug 2014 12:19:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/187774436.jpg

Chicago takes pride in its craft beer scene. From mainstays like Revolution Brewing, Half Acre Beer Company and Metropolitan Brewing, to solid up-and-comers like 5 Rabbit Cervecería and Finch's Beer Company (among many others), it's not a stretch to call this city a beer town.

So we had to look twice at The Daily Meal's new list of the 50 Best Craft Breweries in America: Though the Midwest is represented, Chicago doesn't make the list.

Founders Brewing in Grand Rapids, Michigan, leads the pack at No. 1, followed by Stone Brewing Company in California, Russian River Brewing Company in California and Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware.

Michigan gets another nod at the top with Bell's Brewery ranking fifth. Other Midwest mentions -- all well-known in Chicago, though not produced here -- include Three Floyds Brewing Company in Indiana, New Glarus Brewing in Wisconsin and Surly Brewing Company in Minneapolis.

How was the list created, and how exactly was Chicago left off?

The Daily Meal's methodology started with asking a panel of craft beer experts to nominate breweries they believed in.

"They chose from among new breweries that have really started to make a name for themselves, as well as older standbys that continue to brew excellent, consistent beer year after year," the publication explains. "In the end, we tried to focus on craft breweries that offer a range of great brews, rather than those that offer one particularly stand-out beer."

Jess Novak, drink editor at The Daily Meal and admitted lover of Revolution Brewing, seemed a little surprised too.

"Revolution has some great beers," she said. "I don't know why that one didn't make it on the initial list, because, again, that was decided by our panel. But Revolution is definitely a top brewery."

The Daily Meal certainly has been kind to Chicago in the past, giving us spots on best burrito, best cupcake and best tacos list. It even named a local burger and Mexican eatery the best in the country.

As for our breweries?

"That's just this year," Novak said. "I think Chicago is an amazing beer town with a lot of strong candidates for next year's list. We love Chicago."

Here are the top 20 best craft breweries. For the full list, click here.

1. Founders Brewing — Grand Rapids, Michigan
2. Stone Brewing Company — Escondido, California
3. Russian River Brewing Company — Santa Rosa, California
4. Dogfish Head Brewery — Milton, Delaware
5. Bell's Brewery — Kalamazoo, Michigan
6. Lagunitas Brewing Company — Petaluma, California
7. New Belgium Brewing — Fort Collins, Colorado
8. Cigar City Brewing — Tampa, Florida
9. Oskar Blues Brewery — Longmont, Colorado
10. Three Floyds Brewing Company — Munster, Indiana
11. Firestone Walker Brewing Company — Paso Robles and Buelton, California
12. Avery Brewing Company — Boulder, Colorado
13. Deschutes Brewery — Bend, Oregon
14. Southern Tier Brewing Company — Lakewood, New York
15. Prairie Artisan Ales — Tulsa, Oklahoma
16. Epic Brewing Company — Salt Lake City, Utah; Denver, Colorado
17. Victory Brewing Company — Downingtown, Pennsylvania
18. Great Divide Brewing Company — Denver, Colorado
19. Allagash Brewing Company — Portland, Maine
20. Brewery Ommegang — Cooperstown, New York



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Restaurant Bans Kids]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 10:33:51 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/resto-bans-kids.jpg 7/30/14: A popular restaurant in Northern California has offended some parents when it posted a sign prohibiting strollers, high chairs, booster seats, loud kids, and crying babies. Brynne Whittaker from NBC station KSBW in Monterey, California reports.

Photo Credit: KWBW]]>
<![CDATA[Shake Shack To Open Second Chicago Location in 2015]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:02:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/190*120/shake+shack+getty.jpg

New York-based Shake Shack, as famous for its lines and web cam as its burgers and shakes, is adding a second Chicago location before opening the first.

The fast-casual chain makes its Second City debut late this year at the corner of Ohio and Rush streets. On Tuesday it announced another location to open next year on the ground floor of the new Chicago Athletic Association Hotel at Michigan and Madison.

Both locations will serve the modern-day, “roadside” burger-stand staples Shake Shack is known for: burgers, flat-top dogs made with Chicago’s Vienna Beef, frozen custard, craft beer and wine.

Until then, Shake Shack unveiled six life-size, interactive sliding puzzles on the first location's work site wall on Ohio Street. The puzzles feature artwork by artist Noah MacMillan, known in the city for the Chicago Loop District’s iconic “Float” mural.

"In the spirit of Chicago’s vibrant public art collection and in homage to Shake Shack’s roots as a hot dog cart art installation in New York City," organizers said, "the puzzles invite the neighboring community to engage with them."

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Uniqlo To Open First Store in Chicago Next Fall]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 11:55:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/uniqlo+getty.jpg

Clothing store Uniqlo plans to open its first store in Chicago -- and the Midwest -- next fall.

The flagship location of the hip Japanese casual wear brand, to be located at 830 N. Michigan Ave., will be the chain's second largest store in the United States, after its New York flagship on Fifth Avenue

“Chicago is a global city that’s home to some of the finest cultural and sports institutions in the world, and we are thrilled to join the city’s rich landscape,” UNIQLO USA CEO Larry Meyer said. “We look forward to bringing our innovative, high-quality apparel, world class customer service and modern, bright store aesthetic to the people of Chicago.”

Meyer said the store will begin recruiting at all levels with open positions posted here.

Uniqlo has 21 stores in the Northeast and San Francisco Bay area. It plans to continue its expansion this fall with openings in the Boston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia areas.



Photo Credit: Getty Images for Uniqlo]]>
<![CDATA[See the New Style of Student Housing]]> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 08:54:01 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/drexel-dorm.jpg These are not the cinderblock cells many remember from their college experiences. CNBC's Liz McLaughlin shows off some swanky new digs and explains why the market is hot right now.

Photo Credit: CNBC]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Comes to Chicago for Small Business Boot Camp]]> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 13:12:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/199*120/Facebook+Fit+p1.jpg

Executifes from Facebook visited Chicago Thursday to host Facebook Fit, one of the first in a series of events designed to show entrepreneurs how to improve their Facebook marketing, finance management and legal services.

"[Small businesses] tell us that Facebook is increasingly the place for them to grow their businesses," said Dan Levy, Facebook's director of Small Business, in a release. "They also want to hear from [small business] experts and leading companies on best practices in other key areas such as payments, legal services, and financial management."

Levy is speaking at the keynote address today at Moonlight Studios, 1446 W. Kinzie St. 

Rhonda Abrams, author and entrepreneur,  and Mario Armstrong, television and radio personality, will join Levy in the small business panel discussion.

Last month, Facebook Fit hosted seminars in Miami and New York. Following its visit in Chicago, Facebook Fit heads to Austin, Texas and Menlo Park, Calif. in later this month and early August.

Facebook partnered with Legal Zoom, Inuit Quick Books and Square to host the workshops on topics such as using Facebook for sales and marketing, legal services, and sales.

"That's why we're creating Facebook Fit, so [small businesses] can achieve success in every aspect of their business," Levy said.

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<![CDATA[United to Outsource Jobs at 12 Airports to Cut Costs]]> Tue, 08 Jul 2014 08:58:54 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/464651551.jpg

United Airlines is outsourcing more than 600 jobs at 12 airports around the country to cut costs while adding jobs at other airports.

The airline said Monday that it notified employees of the decision, which had been expected since May. They include ticket and gate agents and baggage handlers at airports served mostly by smaller United Express flights.

"This is a difficult decision, but we need to ensure that our costs are competitive," said United spokeswoman Christen David.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said that it negotiated seniority protection for many of the workers if they relocate, and that job losses will be limited.

Still, union spokesman James Carlson called the outsourcing a "race to the bottom. How can you compete with vendors paying $12 an hour?" He said United's top pay for the work is about $24 an hour.

United will hire other companies to handle the work at airports in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Buffalo, New York; Charleston, South Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; Des Moines, Iowa; Detroit; El Paso, Texas; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Wichita, Kansas; Pensacola, Florida; and Salt Lake City.

Under the union contract, the airline will take back about 400 jobs that had been outsourced at Denver, Honolulu, Phoenix, and Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia.

Chicago-based United Continental Holdings Inc. lost $609 million in the first quarter while rivals Delta and American made money. It employs about 87,000 workers overall, according to FactSet.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Revolution Brewing Makes List of Top Beer Can Designs]]> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 13:42:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/antihero+IPA.jpg

Like books, you can't judge a beer by its cover. Unless your design is as cool as Chicago-based Revolution Brewing's Anti-Hero IPA. 

The brewery's aluminum can design was among the Top 10 picked by Russ Phillips, author of a new design book called "Canned! Artwork of the Modern American Beer Can."

The book explores original artwork of more than 600 craft beer cans, but Thrillist recently asked Phillips to pick his top favorite designs. Revolution's Anti-Hero IPA, featuring a "hop general" wearing Chicago stars and parachuting hop bombs, made the cut.

"I absolutely love this design," Phillips said. "What better way to provide imagery for an IPA than with actual hop bombs floating down behind a rather sinister-looking military general. Look closely and you'll see the stars on his uniform are those from the flag of Chicago. Revolution nailed it with this design."

The design is credited to Ian Law and Oliver Barrett.

Two other Midwest beers made Phillips' design cut, as well: Minneapolis-based Indeed Brewing Company's Midnight Ryder American Black Ale and Grand Rapids-based Brewery Vivant Kludde's Strong Ale.

Other beers on the list include Tallgrass Brewing Company's 8-Bit Pale Ale, Westbrook Brewing Co.'s White Thai Witbier, Santa Fe Brewing Company's Oktoberfest, Midnight Sun Brewing's Snowshoe White Wit Bier, Maui Brewing Co.'s Mana Wheat, Good People Brewing's Snake Handler Double IPA and New England Brewing Company's Gandhi-Bot Double IPA.



Photo Credit: Revolution Brewing]]>
<![CDATA[New Survey Ranks Best, Worst Fast Food in America]]> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 15:21:20 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/485070831.jpg

Want fries with that? Apparently Americans prefer quality, value and variety with their fast food, and according to a new survey, they aren't getting it from major chains.

Oak Brook-based McDonald's ranked last in a new Consumer Reports survey of 32,405 subscribers when it comes to burger taste. Jack in the Box finished second to last, and Burger King just above that.

"We asked subscribers this direct question," Consumer Reports writes. "On a scale of  1 to 10, from least delicious to most delicious you’ve ever eaten, how would you rate the taste?"

McDonald's burgers finished with a score of 5.8. The tastiest burger, with a score of 8.1, went to The Habit Burger Grill, a chain based in California. In-N-Out Burger ranked second, followed by Five Guys and Smashburger.

When it came to the taste of fast-food chicken and burritos, mega-chains KFC and Taco Bell finished last, with respective scores of 7.1 and 6.3. Tops in those categories are Chick-fil-A and Chipotle.

"Many of the biggest names earned significantly lower scores for the foods that made them famous, notably McDonald’s," Consumer Reports notes. "McDonald’s own customers ranked its burgers significantly worse than those of 20 competitors, including Hardee’s, White Castle, and Carl’s Jr. No other house specialty scored as low."

Chicago-based Portillo's, which recently struck a deal with a buyout firm, won top honors for tastiest sandwich followed by Firehouse Subs and Schlotzsky’s. Au Bon Pain came in last in the category.

The publications also inquired about fast-casual restaurants.

“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.

High-quality ingredients were most important when it came to consumers' favorites. While traditional chains have lagged in this area, Tristano says places like Chipotle have ended up on top.

Top fast-casual restaurants:

  • Chipotle Mexican Grill
  • Firehouse Subs
  • Five Guys Burgers and Fries
  • Jason’s Deli
  • Jersey Mike’s Subs
  • Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches
  • McAlister’s Deli
  • Panera Bread
  • Schlotzsky’s
     

Top 10 burgers, by taste:

  • The Habit Burger Grill
  • In-N-Out Burger
  • Five Guys Burger and Fries
  • Smashburger
  • Fuddruckers
  • Culver's
  • Whataburger
  • Burgerville
  • Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers
  • Steak 'n Shake


Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Portillo's Makes Deal With Buyout Firm: Report]]> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 08:58:45 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/169*120/portillos-itailan-beef.jpg

Popular Chicago-area chain Portillo's reportedly has agreed to an investment from a buyout firm.

Dick Portillo, founder and owner of the Oak Brook-based company, confirmed the investment with Berkshire Partners LLC to the Chicago Tribune, noting the company wanted "an experienced partner that shared our vision for the company and an appreciation for our culture."

Though it's not clear whether the partnership includes the entire company, Reuters reports Berkshire could acquire Portillo's Restaurant Group for close to $1 billion.

The company is the largest privately owned restaurant chain in the Midwest and boasts more than three dozen restaurants in Illinois, Indiana, Arizona and California. It's known for its Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches.

The owners announced in May their decision to consider selling the brand. They said at the time the company is poised to be taken to the next level.

Shortly after the announcement, Camping World CEO and reality show star Marcus Lemonis said he was interested in purchasing Portillo's 38 restaurants.

The Lake Forest resident even tweeted his interest at the time, saying Portillo's has "the best beef sandwich."

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<![CDATA[Chicago Lands George Lucas' Museum]]> Thu, 26 Jun 2014 17:03:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/george-lucas-r2d21.jpg

Chicago has come out on top in the intense competition for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.

City Hall officials confirmed that the city has beat out San Francisco and Los Angeles for the museum, which will host more than 500,000 pieces of art and movie memorabilia from "Star Wars" director George Lucas' personal archives. The museum was initially supposed to be called the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum, but the name change was announced Tuesday, along with the decision.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed building the museum on two parking lots located near Soldier Field and offered to lease the land to Lucas for $1, a similar arrangement other large cultural institutions have with the Chicago Park District.

Emanuel said in a news conference Tuesday that the museum will serve as a partner with the city's schools and an opportunity to create jobs.

"I can't thank George and Mellody enough for choosing Chicago," Emanuel said. "This will be a tremendous opportunity, a significant step for the city. No other major American city has these types of cultural and educational institutions, with a great Northerly Island creating a vibrant, green museum campus unparalleled in the United States."

The proposal still needs to go through the Chicago Plan Commission and the earliest it would open is 2018.

Museum officials say the facility will be dedicated to narrative art -- the telling of stories visually, and that the key objective will be to inspire and educate future generations.

Chicago received the nod "because of the quality of the site proposed by the city's task force," and the "unparalleled visitor access" on the 17-acre site.

"Choosing Chicago is the right decision for the museum, but a difficult decision for me personally because of my strong personal and professional roots in San Francisco," said Mr. Lucas, a native of Modesto, Ca.

San Francisco was pushing a piece of property near the water in its downtown area after city officials rejected the first targeted location.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti promoted the use of a #WhyLucasInLA hashtag to build support through social media. The museum would have been located near the University of Southern California, where Lucas attended film school.

Emanuel lobbied hard for the museum to come to Chicago but family ties likely played a part in the decision. Lucas' wife, Mellody Hobson, is from Chicago and the two share a home in the city.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Entrepreneur Barbie Makes Her Debut]]> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 11:28:06 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/212*120/BarbieEntreBillboard_v3_%282%29.jpg

From nurse to pilot to NASCAR driver to computer engineer, Barbie has had a lot of different careers. Now she’s adding entrepreneur to the list of titles under her exceptionally small plastic belt.

Equipped with a smartphone, briefcase, tablet and even LinkedIn, Entrepreneur Barbie is now being sold.

The doll’s description explains that she has partnered with “a diverse group of female entrepreneurs,” including the founders of the Girls Who Code, Rent the Runway, One Kings Lane, Plum Alley, Genuine Insights, Sugarfina and TheTomKat Studio.

Adding to the innovation element of the plastic doll, who dons a hot pink dress, “elegant hair” and a glam necklace, Entrepreneur Barbie even hosts Twitter chats alongside her established entrepreneur partners and has her own hashtags like #BarbieChat and #unapologetic.

The entrepreneurs offered tips and advice to young girls with a Twitter discussion Wednesday to help reinforce the doll’s slogan, “If you can dream it, you can be it.”

“This year alone, female entrepreneurs have graced the cover of TIME's Most Influential People issue and lead 1-in-5 start-ups,” toy maker Mattel said in a statement. “Alongside Barbie, female entrepreneurs are changing the world, surpassing their goal and showing girls they can be both capable and captivating.”

More companies are starting to take note of female entrepreneurs. In Chicago, 1871 is set to launch a new facility designed to foster growth and opportunity for women-owned tech startups in the city.

But Entrepreneur Barbie isn’t without criticism. Some have questioned why she has no real career focus, and others claim she is categorized an “entrepreneur” thanks to her handy electronic devices and “dressed for success” attire.

Others have also rasied questions about her hashtag, #unapologetic, wondering what a female entrepreneur would need to be sorry for.

It wouldn’t be the first time the doll has been at the center of a controversy over her 55 years in the mannequin “business.”

Most recently, Mattel received criticism after the doll appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s annual Swimsuit Issue.

In the issue Barbie wears an updated version of her black-and-white bathing suit she sported when first introduced in 1959.



Photo Credit: Business Wire]]>
<![CDATA[Culver's Plans First Chicago Location in Wrigleyville]]> Tue, 17 Jun 2014 13:33:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/174*120/culvers+getty.jpg

Chicagoans could be eating "ButterBurgers" in Wrigleyville by Cubs Opening Day next year.

Culver's, the Wisconsin-based chain known for its signature burgers and frozen custard, plans to open its first Chicago location at 3500 N. Clark St., two blocks from Wrigley Field.

The franchise hopes to cater to the neighborhood's families, as well as baseball lovers and the late-night crowd.

"We think it's a great opportunity to serve Culver's fans from all over the Chicago area coming to games at Wrigley Field," said Jack Rush, an operational partner opening the location with franchisee Justin Obriech.

Obriech owns five other Culver's locations in the south suburbs and has lived in Chicago's Lakeview area for about seven years, Rush said.

As the team applies for Chicago permits, Rush said they have received positive feedback from local residents and Ald. Tom Tunney.

"We have been welcomed with very high praise of the Culver's brand, the [chain's] hospitality and the whole Culver's style," he said.

Rush said they are "excited and hopeful" to be open by next spring.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[eBay to Expand in Chicago]]> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 06:58:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/70d7c28cf8744445ba039f9d6d24c3f1.jpg

Illinois officials say eBay Inc. will expand into Chicago.

The online auction giant will hire 360 employees over three years and lease a 60,000-square-foot office in the city's Merchandise Mart building, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity spokesman David Roeder said the company will be eligible for an incentives package. That package could cut $12 million from eBay's tax bill over the 10 years if it makes good on a pledge to spend $24 million on the expansion effort. That includes hiring 216 full-time employees by spring of 2016 and 144 more by the following March.

San Jose, Calif.-based eBay bought Chicago tech startup Braintree for $800 million last year.

Gov. Pat Quinn says he's "thrilled" that eBay is expanding into Chicago.

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<![CDATA[5 Traffic Apps to Help Navigate Kennedy Closures]]> Fri, 13 Jun 2014 16:26:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/04-25-2014-generic-traffic-generic.jpg

It's already being called "carmageddon." During the last three weekends in June, part of the Kennedy Expressway will close for major construction at Ohio Street, likely causing massive delays and detours.

How to deal? If you're ready to hit the road, here are five traffic apps to help you navigate around the construction and closures.

Google Maps: If your phone doesn't already feature it, this app integrates navigation with traffic density and routes to automatically reroute you around traffic. It now also offers the option of sharing your route and arrival info with friends and family.

Waze: Described as "one of the world's largest community-based traffic and navigation apps," Waze uses crowd-sourced information for traffic info, construction updates and roadway incidents. The app alerts you to any oncoming issues with time for you to avoid them.

Inrix HD: The app touts billions of data points to give users accurate, real-time traffic information. It's designed to make commutes shorter and smarter, depending on daily traffic patterns. In some cities, you can even view traffic cameras for a first-hand look at the roads.

TransitGenie: Taking public transit? This app plans your Chicago trip with CTA bus-tracking data and CTA and Metra train schedules. It was developed by a computer scientist at the University of Illinois who knows his way around town. 

Hopstop: If you're headed to a weekend festival and aren't too familiar with Chicago, consider giving this app a go. Used in more than 140 cities, it maps a route via transit, walking, biking and taxi from your current location to your destination.

Bonus: NBC 5's app: We couldn't help ourselves. Download our app for up-to-the-minute travel times with construction alerts and incident reports. Tune in to our traffic page for an interactive map and reporter Kye Martin's traffic updates and reroutes for the Kennedy construction.

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<![CDATA[WGN Says Cubs Radio Deal Didn't Make Economic Sense]]> Thu, 05 Jun 2014 09:51:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP848740801840_1.jpg

The Chicago Cubs are ending their partnership with WGN Radio, one of the longest such relationships in broadcast history.

WGN Radio president Jimmy de Castro confirmed Wednesday media reports that the Cubs are leaving the station after this season. The radio station has been the Cubs' radio home for 90 years.

De Castro told MLB.com that it didn't make sense, business-wise, to stick with AM radio.

"It's not that we don't love the Cubs," de Castro said. "It's that it just doesn't make business sense on an AM radio station given today's new media opportunities and ways for advertisers to buy the Cubs."

The Cubs say they'll hold a news conference Thursday at Wrigley Field to announce a long-term broadcast deal with CBS-owned WBBM-AM. Cubs announcers Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer are expected to continue calling the team's games.

De Castro says parting ways was a difficult decision for the station. But he says the decision was made after the station determined the business deal the Cubs insisted on did not make economic sense for the station, which first broadcast the team's games in 1925.

"We're still going to be associated with the Cubs," de Castro said. "We still think it's going to be a big, big part of our platform. We're still going to spring training."

The Cubs haven't had a winning team for several years, losing 288 games over the last three years, which has affected advertising revenue, according to de Castro. As a result, the radio station has lost money and would have continued to lose money had the team decided to renew its contract with the broadcast outlet.

The station exercised an opt-out provision in the contract last fall due to falling ratings and revenue. That move followed the Cubs' decision to opt out of their WGN-TV deal to seek better long-term regional TV rights fees.

WGN parent Tribune Co. recently announced the company's intention to stop televising Chicago sports nationally on WGN America as it converts it to a basic cable channel from a superstation.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[5 More Mariano's Stores Set to Open in 2015]]> Wed, 28 May 2014 10:39:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Marianos_park-ridge.jpg

Mariano's isn't done yet.

The grocery store chain plans to open five more locations in 2015, with four confirmed stores set to open in the suburbs.

A Mariano's spokesman confirmed to NBC 5 the following four locations: 

  • 2601 W. 95th St. in Evergreen Park
  • Willow Road at I-294 in Glenview
  • 7200 N. McCormick Blvd. in Skokie
  • 770 Skokie Blvd. in Northbrook

Dominick's parent company, Safeway, announced in October its decision to pull its 72 stores out of the Chicago market because of poor sales, and Mariano's purchased 11 of the stores.

By the end of this year, Mariano's will have 29 stores in the Chicago area -- 10 in the city and 19 in the suburbs.

Owner Bob Mariano recently announced the chain plans to build a new store at 39th Street and King Drive on Chicago's South Side. Construction is expected to begin in 2015.

Mariano told Crain's Chicago Business it projects the Chicago-area market can support between 45 and 50 locations.

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