Emanuel recruits UIUC students to help make Chicago tech hub - FOX 32 News Chicago

Emanuel recruits UIUC students to help make Chicago tech hub

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Mayor Emanuel's push to make Chicago a tech hub took him on a recruiting trip Tuesday to the University of Illinois.

The mayor's visit was part salesman and part diplomat as he tried to forge a stronger relationship with the University of Illinois, where computer and engineering students represent the future of the high tech industry

"I believe your future is in city of Chicago," Rahm announced.

Several hundred students whose talents make them prime recruits for the high tech companies that predominantly call the East or West Coasts their home, came to learn more about what Chicago has to offer them after graduation.

Mayor Emanuel was joined by Brad Keywell, the co-founder of Groupon, Mike Evans, Co-founder of GrubHub, and Eric Lunt who co-founded Feedburner, bought up by Google.

"I want you to see the opportunity in Chicago not as a place to pass through to go to either California, Washington State or Boston, but as a place where you can get a job, start a company, see a colleague and have the quality of life where you'll eventually call Chicago home," Mayor Emanuel said.

The panel talked about the vibrant and growing high tech community nestled in and around the Merchandise Mart, and how Chicago is ready to compete with any other city.

"I guarantee if you spend time up in Chicago it would be self evident, you wouldn't be wondering whether this would be a viable place to go when you're done with college, viable place to get a job, start a company, there's capital, there's talent and there's demand," Groupon Co-Founder Brad Keywell said to the students.

After the discussion students had a chance to meet with head honchos from 39 Chicago companies. The city sales pitch was winning some converts, but leaving others still leaning towards the coasts.

"I feel like the technology scene is really growing there and there is lot of opportunity for the student in the tech area like in electrical engineering, computer engineering and computer science," said graduate student June Chongvisal from Thailand.

"I am talking to some Chicago companies," said Wheaton senior Gavin Owens. "I have nothing against staying in Chicago but the sheer number of companies that I'm talking to are on the coasts, less in Chicago but I'm definitely looking."

Chicago is an up-and-comer in the high tech community and if more students from top-notch programs like at the University of Illinois can be recruited to make Chicago their home after graduation, it could have a snow-ball effect, which is exactly what the mayor would like to see.

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