Democratic National Convention expected to boost Chicago economy

Chicago will take center stage next August as the host city for the 2024 Democratic National Convention.

On Wednesday afternoon, state and local leaders celebrated the win.

"This dream and this quest began well over a year ago," said Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Mayor Lightfoot, Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson and Governor JB Pritzker, among others, spoke with excitement about the convention's return to Chicago after nearly three decades.

"We are a reflection of the nation and the policies that lift up working families. A convention in Chicago, the center of the Blue Wall of key states like Wisconsin and Michigan and Minnesota, will show that Democrats don't take this region for granted," Pritzker said.


President Joe Biden called the governor on Tuesday to share the news.

The last time democratic delegates convened in the Windy City was in 1996, and before that, the notorious 1968 convention.

Chicago ultimately beat out Atlanta and New York to secure next year’s convention.

"We expect it to be a full Chicago convention, where we are working with everybody, that the businesses that we are working with represent the diversity of the Democratic Party," said DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison.

The United Center and McCormick Place will host the DNC's main events.

Roughly 50,000 people are expected to attend, including about 6,000 delegates.

The event – scheduled for August 19-22, 2024 – will bring tens of millions of dollars into the economy, lead to improved infrastructure, and create new jobs.

"I think when you look at what we went through in the hotel industry particularly, our hard-working men and women, many of which were laid off during the pandemic, events like this is what Chicago lives and breathes on," said Michael Jacobson, president & CEO, Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association.

Hospitality experts, like Jacobson, say the DNC will benefit restaurants, bars, museums, and hotels in the city and suburbs.

"To be able to bring 50,000 political and media influencers to the city during one of the best weeks of the year to visit, is really going to change a lot of people’s perceptions about the city," said Jacobson.

Residents also shared optimism for the convention.

"We are overdue for some economic relief, this is just a joy," said Johnathan Godfrey, who lives in Chicago. "It’s always nice to see the Midwest and especially Chicago do well. That’s what we need right now."

Chicagoans and officials, alike, are also hoping this will draw more visitors in the future.

"Safe cities are safe when we have investments, so the DNC coming to the city of Chicago is one of the embodiments of one of the best investments you can make," said Mayor-elect Johnson.

Specifics, including how much money will be spent on infrastructure in advance of the convention, and a security plan, have not yet been announced.

"We will obviously make sure we get done what needs to get done, but because of the work that was really initiated by the Daley administration in preparation for the 1996 Democratic National Convention, a lot of the work around the infrastructure was already done," said Lightfoot.

Lightfoot said the city will be working with federal agencies to ensure safety during the convention.