THE LOOP — The Chicago Loop Alliance has overseen the beautification of the city's central business district since 2005, but at its 8th annual meeting Tuesday, the group looked to the future.
The alliance will develop a five-year plan for improvements downtown that include reducing panhandling, keeping State Street cleaner and updating alleys in the Loop, recently-appointed Executive Director Michael M. Edwards said.
Beginning this month, the alliance will reach out to Loop business owners, residents and civic leaders to identify key areas for improvement where the group's foundation can focus its efforts over the next five years.
"We intend to ask 'What can CLA do to manage panhandling?' for example. 'What is the most effective way for the CLA to assist the homeless, and people in need? What is the most effective approach to create a more safe and civil environment across the Loop?" Edwards said.
The alliance will also focus on driving more to tourism downtown, working with Choose Chicago, which recently set a goal of bringing 50 million visitors to the city in 2013.
"Just last year, according to research by Arts Alliance Illinois, nonprofit arts presenters and audiences contributed $2.2 billion to Chicago's economy, much of it in the Loop," Loop alliance Chairman Martin Stern said, before reviewing his group's 2012 contributions to bringing 43 million tourists to Chicago last year.
Among them was Color Jam, artist Jessica Stockholder's expansive color installation at State and Adams streets, the third installation in the alliance-backed Art Loop series.
"Color Jam represented CLA's most ambitious public art project to date," Stern said, calling the project "an experience of volume, color and shape that filled an entire intersection."
The alliance's 2013 operating budget is nearly $2.8 million, up from $2.5 million in 2008. The majority of its funding comes from the city's Special Service Area budget.
Also at the meeting, the alliance announced its 2013 officers and directors, including returning chairman Stern, of U.S. Equities Realty LLC. First Vice Chairman is Bill Burfeind of Turner Construction, joined by Second Vice Chairman Rich Gamble of Chicago Magazine. Ron Arnold of Robert Morris University will serve as treasurer again, and Pamella Capitanini of Italian Village Restaurants was confirmed as secretary.