Chicago City Guide: Economic Performance, Brand Strength, Reputation

Chicago: how well does the “Windy City” perform in international rankings that study the competitiveness of cities in terms of attractiveness for talent, innovation and business? Does Chicago have a chance at beating its national rivals New York and San Francisco thanks to its cultural offering? How well does the city do in terms of sustainability? Find the answers in this post on Chicago’s performance in various global rankings that measure city competitiveness.

In our Chicago city guide:

  • Chicago and sustainability;
  • Chicago’s global power;
  • Innovation and finance in Chicago;
  • Chicago city brand reputation.

Chicago and sustainability

In the past years, Chicago has been enhancing the lives of its residents through its aggressive “Sustainable Chicago” plan and has led the way on several fronts, such as the development of more than 225 miles of cycle lanes. The city also prides itself for having high quality water. Despite these efforts, Chicago’s performance in the Sustainable Cities index is not too impressive. In 2016, its overall ranking was 60th ; in the people category it scored even lower (74th), while its performance in the planet (67th) and profit (45th) sub-indices were somewhat better.

Chicago’s ranking in the Green Cities index is 11th among US and Canadian cities. It scores highest for transport (6th) and energy (8th) and lowest for CO2 emissions (19th).

Global power of Chicago

After a strong descent in 2014, Chicago currently ranks at a fairly strong 22nd position in the Global Power City Index (2017). This, however, is still far from its all-times-best, 14th position in 2008.

Chicago does very well in the research and development category, where its position is 8th. This is an exception, though, as other indicators show a much lower performance – with livability (40th), environment (34th) and economy (27th) ranking all below the top-20.

AT Kearney’s Global Cities index ranks Chicago much higher (7th) in its 2017 study, featuring it as the second-best American city in this index. Chicago’s performance in this study has been very steady, having maintained the same position for the last five years.

Chicago as place to live

Rated as the world’s best city by Time Out’s 2018 City Life Index,Chicago has recently gained fame for its outstanding food and bar scene. In this survey spanning 32 cities and 15.000 people, Chicago also scored above average for happiness, culture, affordability, city pride and how people feel about their neighborhood.

Resonance Consultancy’s 2018 Best Cities Index on place equity positions Chicago 10th in its latest ranking, making it the third-best US city, after New York (2nd) and San Francisco (9th). Here, Chicago is a high performer in the sub-indices of product (7th), promotion (11th) and programming (12th). The soft values of Chicago – people (60th) and place (57th) —rank lower in this study.

In Resonance Consultancy’s place equity study focused only on US cities, Chicago stands out for its high performance in the product category. Ranking 2nd among all US cities, the report highlights Chicago’s high number of top local universities and excellent attractions and entertainment as recommended by locals and visitors. Also, Chicago stands out for its numerous museums and fine arts institutions. Its performance in the pillar of programming is also excellent – 3rd — just after New York and Los Angeles, reaffirming its strong commitment to offering cultural events.

In Mercer’s 2018 Cost of Living City Ranking, Chicago ranks 51st, meaning that in economic terms it is a more affordable place to live than New York (13th) or San Francisco (32nd).

Chicago: how attractive for digital nomads?

Chicago offers high-speed Internet (Nomad List), but is an expensive city to live in. When it comes to living as a digital nomad in Chicago or the USA in general, it is a good place to live and work in. Overall the USA is ranked 10th out of 68 countries in terms of digital life for expats (InterNations).

Chicago’s strength as finance and innovation hub

Chicago is a strong performer in the Global Financial Centers Index 23, scoring 5th for its business environment, 7th for reputation, 8th for human capital and financial sector development. It remains shortly below the global top-10 in banking (12th), as well as investment management, government and professional services (all ranking 11th).

Chicago has made an impressive leap in the  2018 Innovation Cities Index, ranking 11th. This is nine positions better than last year and makes it the fifth best-ranking US city. behind New York (2nd) and San Francisco (4th).

Chicago city reputation

Chicago’s performance in the City RepTrak index that studies the worldwide reputation of cities is rather average: it positions 45th in the 2017 ranking. US cities are not the strongest performers in this study, with San Francisco taking 22nd position right ahead of New York. Among US cities, Chicago is the 11th best-performer for city reputation.

Analysis by Maria Lindmäe. Last updated August 2018.

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