Michael Fassnacht, the man at the helm of World Business Chicago, is bidding adieu to his position as president and CEO after a dynamic four-year tenure; his departure is slated for February, the organization declared Tuesday. With his history rooted in the advertising industry, Fassnacht migrated to the public domain, becoming instrumental in advocating for Chicago as a top choice for corporate localization, according to the Chicago Tribune.
During his leadership, Fassnacht chiefly concentrated on reshaping the city's standing post-pandemic, simultaneously wrestling with rising vacancy rates downtown and the wider adoption of hybrid work models, never ceasing to champion Chicago's business credentials and evoking strategies to position it on the international stage, whether through novel marketing ploys or bluntly responding to legislation in other states that stirred controversy, as reported the same Tribune article.
Not one to shy away from a fight, World Business Chicago fought back against states passing laws targeting the LGBTQ+ community, for instance, placing ads in several Sun Belt states countering their legislation; they continued with a show of economic solidarity in the wake of the Supreme Court's overturn of Roe v. Wade, making it clear Chicago welcomed the business community affected by state-level abortion restrictions. Fassnacht, in a statement obtained from the Axios interview, remarked, "Over the last four years, I enjoyed every single minute of my work, through all the ups and downs. Now it's time for a change. But I won't change my love for and dedication to Chicago."
Despite efforts and some notable corporate wins, Chicago saw the departure of significant names such as Citadel and Boeing under Fassnacht's watch. World Business Chicago rallied behind 482 "pro-Chicago decisions" that reflected expansions and relocations in the area and pointed towards the creation of the Greater Chicagoland Economic Partnership, a collaborative effort to draw business to the region. These details were heard in the Chicago Tribune.
Mayor Brandon Johnson has expressed his gratitude for the strides made under Fassnacht's leadership, saying, "I extend my deepest appreciation to Michael for his exceptional leadership, which has elevated our city as a hub for business and contributed to our economic revitalization" as conveyed in a statement obtained from the Axios piece. Even though he's stepping away from the CEO position, Fassnacht isn't leaving the board and will keep lending his voice to Chicago's business narrative while the organization embarks on a "swift" quest for his successor, expected to be announced by February, as cited by the Tribune.