Celebrating the Cubs—and Community Health—in Chicago

Chicago. The start of Route 66, "Home of the Skyscraper,” and home of the 2015 Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks—and now a city on fire for their Cubs!  

On October 19, the Chicagoland Chamber hosted the 11th and final Health Means Business forum for 2016. Partnering with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the sold-out forum brought together local businesses and community leaders to discuss how we can create a healthier Chicago.

Speakers included:

  • Marc DeCourcey, Senior Vice President, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
  • Beth Toner, Senior Communications Officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Elyse Cohen,Executive Director, Health Means Business Campaign
  • Erin Lavin Cabonargi, Director of Construction, Sterling Bay
  • Cathy Kenworthy, Chief Executive Officer, Interactive Health
  • Robert Gabriel, Campus Director - Chicago, University of Phoenix
  • Mike Gordon, President of Business Operations, Chicago Wolves Hockey
  • And others (To see a full list of speakers, visit www.uschamberfoundation.org/event/chicago-health-means-business-forum.)

As Ms. Toner stated: “We know that if we’re to build a culture of health in the United States, it is going to take more than non-profits and community organizations. It’s going to take everybody working together, and that means business.”

Why? Employers have a stake in ensuring that their employees—and customers—can enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Furthermore, as the largest purchasers of healthcare, employers are uniquely situated and incentivized to provide leadership in the workplace wellness and health promotion space.

Theresa E. Mintle, President & CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, said “What gets me excited about the Health Means Business campaign is bringing together [people] around one single topic. It allows us to talk with each other about trends we’re seeing, lessons we’ve learned, and the challenges we face.”

Gia Biagi, Senior Director for Urbanism and Civic Impact at Studio Gang, emphasized “a connection between physical wellness, mental health, social wellness, and also economics.”

The campaign’s Executive Director, Elyse Cohen, amplified the point: “What we’re really striving to do is shift from socially responsible businesses to a business-led culture of health.”

The event ended with a powerful call to action. Mike Gordon of the Chicago Wolves said, “Everyone has a community they serve. Whether it is a community or a customer-base…just spur them on to affect change, especially in the arena of health and wellness.” Gordon signed the Health Means Business pledge on behalf of the team, inspiring others at the forum to do the same.

Chicago has already taken steps to promote health and wellness. Earlier this year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Department of Public Health launched Healthy Chicago 2.0, a four-year plan to improve the health and well-being of Chicago communities. In September 2016, Chicago was named the best city for biking, according to Bicycling magazine. The following month, according to a report by Gallup and Healthways, Chicago came in as the “third best community” in the nation for active living.

Working together, we can create a healthier Chicago. Now, with the support of business leaders, there is no telling how far we will go. 

Join the conversation on Twitter using hashtag #opportunity4health and sign the Health Means Business pledge now! Visit http://bit.ly/HMBPledge to sign up.

A Call-to-Action: The Health Means Business campaign is honoring 10 significant partnerships/initiatives involving cross-sector collaborations between local businesses and traditional and non-traditional partners to improve community wellness through greater economic opportunity. Please submit your nominations for the Healthy10 Award by December 1. We’d love your nominations!