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GrubHub, other tech firms commit to adding 2,000 jobs in Chicago

Mayor Rahm Emanuel (left) talks with Matt Maloney GrubHub co-founder CEO before he announced thmore than 20 Chicago-based technology companies

Mayor Rahm Emanuel (left) talks with Matt Maloney, GrubHub co-founder and CEO before he announced that more than 20 Chicago-based technology companies have committed to create more than 2,000 jobs, collectively in Chicago during news conference at Grub Hub, 111 W. Washington St., Monday, September 24, 2012. l John H. White~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 26, 2012 6:13AM

Twenty-one fast-growing technology companies have together agreed to create more than 2,000 jobs by 2015, proof that Chicago is “putting its footprint down in the digital economy,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday.

The expanding technology companies run the gamut — from the online food ordering service GrubHub to health care and education companies, retail service and information technology providers and technology-based marketing and fashion companies.

“When you think about where Chicago was just five years ago — we couldn’t hold this type of event. You couldn’t even put that together. Chicago is now actually putting its footprint down on the digital economy and digital space and it is known now as the digital alley for new technology companies,” Emanuel said.

“These are 2,000 jobs because they have the talent. They have the funding. They have the technology, the innovation, the support of public- and private-sector entities to create a complete eco-system.”

The mayor joined the techies in making the announcement at the new downtown office of GrubHub, which committed to adding 250 jobs over the next three years.

“We grew from two people in a 10-by-10 square-foot office into what you see here: almost 300 people, 60,000 square feet in the middle of the Loop. We’re serving food from over 15,000 restaurants across 400 cities in the country. It’s really exciting what we’ve been able to do here,” said Matt Maloney, GrubHub’s co-founder and CEO. “That spirit, that innovation, that community — it really represents the digital startup scene here in Chicago. And we’re really excited to be a part of that community.”

Justyn Howard is the CEO of Sprout Social, which helps more than 10,000 business customers around the world use Twitter, Facebook, Fan Pages, LinkedIn and other social media to build their client bases.

Howard said when he made the decision to “put down roots” in Chicago, there were a lot of people who warned that he would be at a “competitive disadvantage” by building a technology company outside California’s Silicon Valley, particularly a company that relied heavily on social media.

“Our reality has actually been quite the opposite. Not only have we built a competitive company. We lead our space. We’ve built an enormously talented team. We’ve got more than 10,000 business customers across the globe with outstanding growth and we’ve been able to do all of that here in the city of Chicago because we’ve had access to the resources that we need to grow,” Howard said.

Chicago’s technology community as a whole has gotten bigger and more vibrant over the last 18 months, Howard said. More startups have gotten off the ground. More organizations have sprouted up to help entrepreneurs. And Emanuel is “dedicated to making Chicago one of the top technology cities in the world,” Howard said.

“That commitment is important to me as a CEO because I know that while I’ve got my head down figuring out ways to innovate and grow and help my customers that the mayor is working just as hard to make sure we continue to have the resources we need to be successful — that we have the infrastructure, the talent, access to capital and all of the other things we need to grow and thrive,” he said.

“That commitment gives us confidence in our decision … to stay here in Chicago, to continue to grow, to add more than 150 new technology jobs in Chicago over the next few years.”

Matt Moog of Built in Chicago said Emanuel has shown that he “appreciates the importance of technology” and entrepreneurs are responding in kind.

“The announcements that we made today show that there is confidence and there is optimism in the future of Chicago as a digital technology hub. We have all of the assets we need to ensure future growth: talented and passionate entrepreneurs; a supportive local government; world-class educational institutions; an active base of venture capital investors and a talented workforce that want to live in the greatest city in the world,” Moog said.

Earlier this year, Emanuel was riding high from the jobs coup that was supposed to bring 3,000 Motorola Mobility employees from Libertyville to Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.

Google’s decision to cut 4,000 jobs worldwide from its wireless phone business — 750 of them at Motorola Mobility in Libertyville — was a political blow that undercut the mayor’s efforts to portray Chicago as the “digital capital of the Midwest.”

Monday’s announcement helped the mayor reclaim that argument.

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