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Venture Capitalist Bruce Rauner to Chair the Board of the Chicago Convention
 & Tourism Bureau; Appointment a Key Element in Revamping the
 City's Convention Industry Leadership

By Kathy Bergen, Chicago TribuneMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

July 30, 2010 --Mayor Richard Daley named venture capitalist Bruce Rauner to chair the board of the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau, the publicly subsidized nonprofit organization that books business into McCormick Place and markets the city as a business and leisure destination.

Rauner's appointment on Thursday follows his stint this spring on an interim board of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, the state-city agency known as McPier that owns and operates McCormick Place and Navy Pier.

That panel devised a plan for restructuring convention center operations and the state Legislature incorporated some of the proposals in a new law aimed at making Chicago more competitive with lower-cost rivals.

Rauner's appointment is a key element in revamping the city's convention industry leadership. The new law named Jim Reilly, a former head of McPier who most recently was chairman of the Regional Transportation Authority, as interim trustee of McCormick Place, charged with ushering in an era of private management.

And a newly named McPier board will be headed by David Mosena, a former chief of staff to Daley and currently president and CEO of the Museum of Science and Industry.

During his tenure on the McPier interim board, Rauner was a proponent of private sector options. He also dissented on a McPier board recommendation to shift McCormick Place marketing from the bureau to McPier, a recommendation that went nowhere in Springfield.

Rauner, who is chairman of GTCR, a Chicago-based venture capital and private equity firm, could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

"We've already taken important steps to reform how we conduct our convention business but we have to keep our momentum going," Daley said in a statement.

"We need bold thinking when it comes to marketing our city, and I am confident Bruce is the right person to guide that thinking."

Rauner will serve a three-year term in the unpaid post, heading a board that has been reduced to 25 members, from nearly 100, by the new state law. The law also aims to diversify the makeup of the board, which often was led by hotel executives.

A resident who has made contributions to an array of Republican campaigns and organizations, Rauner also contributed $150,000 in 2006 to the mayor's last campaign, and another $50,000 to the mayor's campaign committee in 2003, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

The contributions played no role in Rauner's appointment, said Daley spokeswoman Jodi Kawada. "He has a history as a philanthropist and active civic leader in our city," she said. "It should come as no surprise that he was asked and that he willingly accepted."

Rauner serves on the board of the Renaissance Schools Fund, which raises private money to aid in the startup of Chicago public schools.

Rauner also is active with the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club, where he is chairman of the education committee.

Tim Roby, president and CEO of the convention bureau, said, "Bruce has demonstrated through his achievements in business and his prior involvement on McCormick Place reforms that he is the ideal person to lead the CCTB and our members into the future."

kbergen@tribune.com

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