Crain's - Harris Poll Chicago Executive Pulse

A Deep Dive on Business Trends from Top Chicago Executives

Updated monthly by Crain’s and The Harris Poll to track Chicago business executive sentiment


Chicago Business Environment Continues to Deteriorate through COVID-19

Over the last month, Chicago metro area business conditions are considered to have deteriorated by a majority (57%) of Chicago business executives. And when it comes to enterprise companies, this number jumps to 78%.

MoM Revenue Improvement is an Early Sign of Recovery

Over the last month, changes in business revenue levels are evenly split, with 35% saying they have increased, 29% no change, and 37% saying decreased. However, we see more of a difference when we break it down by company size, and midsize companies may be better off over enterprise companies.

Financial Issues top the list for Chicago Executives

When asked what the biggest issues holding back the Chicago community, one quarter (25%) agreed that budget (pensions) is the biggest issue holding back Chicago today, closely followed by taxes (20%). When asked the same thing for Chicago's business environment, over a quarter (26%) agree that taxes are the biggest issue, closely followed 20% who said the economy.

How Chicago Outperforms and Underperforms

When rating Chicago’s overall performance across a spectrum of areas, transportation and talent come out on top, with 78% and 70% rating it excellent/good respectively. Where does Chicago score lower? Only 39% rated Chicago as excellent or good on it’s level of taxation, and 38% said the same of Public Safety.

Important Factors to keep Business in Chicago

A vast majority of business owners or equity partners agree (95%) that regulation and attitude of local government towards business is the most important factor when considering keeping business in Chicago. Presidents, Chairmen, or C-level execs disagree, however, saying that public safety is the top consideration (97%) closely followed by quality of life (94%).

Midsize Companies plan to continue Expanding in Chicago

Over half (52%) of midsize companies say their current expansion plans are focused in the Chicago Metro Area. On the other hand, only 3% of them say they are focusing expansion outside of the country.

Limiting Spread of COVID-19 should remain Priority for Local Officials from the perspective of Chicago Executives

Unsurprisingly, this is followed up with 24% saying they should prioritize re-opening businesses and the economy and public safety comes in third with 22% agreeing it should be prioritized.

41% of Chicago Executives think the Local Economy will be in Very Good/Good Condition in the Next 6 Months

Their optimism is also extended to the U.S. Economy, with 46% believing it will be in very good/good condition in the next 6 months.

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Crain's - Harris Poll Chicago Executive Pulse Data


This survey was fielded online from August 5 – August 14, 2020, among a sample of 200 Chicago DMA business executives split between 150 midsize and 50 enterprise firms. Business executives are defined as Business Owner or Equity Partner; President, Chairman, or C-level Executive; Managing Director; Senior Vice President; Vice President; or Director.