A mega-tech conference is coming to Chicago this spring, officials announced Thursday.
Thousands of Microsoft’s brightest minds will unite at McCormick Place for the company’s Ignite event.
“Ignite is really the signature event we have for our business customers,” said Microsoft General Manager Julia White. “We are really happy it will be here in Chicago for the first time.”
It’s a major coup for tourism and technology in the city.
Microsoft says it will combine five of its annual tech conferences into a singular one event, set to be hosted at McCormick Place.
“The desirability of Chicago in general—the food, the entertainment, the sports—made it really ideal,” White said.
The conference is scheduled for May 4-8. It could bring as many as 20,000 people to the city and an estimated $47 million in spending.
“This is a testament to what has happened at McCormick Place and all the other strengths—our airport, our hotels, our entertainment, our restaurants and it plays to Chicago’s strengths,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The announcement was made at 1871, one of five startup incubators in Chicago. The newest, the Chicago Innovation Exchange, opened Thursday morning in Hyde Park.
The city’s growing tech sector is another reason Microsoft chose Chicago.
“We are recognizing it for what it is—a real technology hub,” White said. “Ignite is the first great partnership but I think there will be more.”
The Microsoft announcement comes on the heels of news that next year Chicago will host both the NFL Draft and the James Beard awards, events that were previously in New York.
So far, Microsoft's agreement with the city is for one year only.
“My goal is to make it an annual conference so they keep coming back,” Emanuel said.