THE LOOP — The city's official tourism booster is closing its last Downtown visitor center and cutting 28 jobs, saying it has no other choice with a state budget impasse holding up $7 million in funding.
Choose Chicago, which made the announcement Friday, will shutter its official visitor information center in the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., on Jan. 3. Choose Chicago will also pull staff out of another visitor center at Macy's, 111 N. State St.
A quasi-public agency that gets most of its revenue from the state, Choose Chicago attributed the cuts to state budget negotiations that have stalled for months and held up $7 million in Choose Chicago funding. The booster had already slashed $2.3 million from its budget this year, and prematurely ended its Chicago Epic campaign due to the Springfield impasse. A similar visitor center at Water Tower Place closed last year, and Choose Chicago is also shutting down offices in Mexico and Canada.
"We are hopeful that when the state funding is restored, we will be in a position to further develop strategies as we work to provide visitors with the best tools and access to visitor information," Meghan Risch, a Choose Chicago spokeswoman, said in a statement.
Chicago was one of just three American cities to draw 50 million or more tourists last year, and this summer, led by big-ticket events like the NFL Draft and Grateful Dead "Fare Thee Well" shows, was already being touted by Choose Chicago as "one of the most exceptional" on record. Choose Chicago was formed in 2012.
The Choose Chicago center at the Cultural Center was largely dominated by materials for the Chicago Architecture Biennial on Monday afternoon, and staff there declined to comment on the upcoming closure.
Chicago-based spokespeople for Macy's did not immediately return messages.
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