New Chicago Treasurer Aims to Invest Pension Money Locally


Chicago treasurer Kurt Summers was sworn into office this week and quickly unveiled plans to increase the amount of pension money that goes toward Chicago-based investments.

His plans, from the Sun-Times:

[Summers] wants to hold an annual investor conference for the 200 fund managers who already get Chicago’s money and for hundreds more who desperately want a piece of the $50 billion pie.

At that conference, local entrepreneurs, many of whom have trouble getting access to capital to fund their innovative ideas, will get a chance to present their ideas to make the case for investment.

If Summers has his way, the city’s investment decisions will be based, in large part, on how much of the money is being invested in Chicago neighborhoods.

“We’re gonna bring them to Chicago. We’re gonna show them Chicago entrepreneurs and businesses and neighborhoods. And we’re gonna use our own capital. We’re gonna walk the talk, basically, and look to invest in Chicago,” said Summers, who is running unopposed in the Feb. 24 election.

“Today, we’re basically investing anywhere else but Chicago. And we’re telling the rest of the world that we don’t think Chicago is a worthy investment for our portfolios. That’s not the message we want to send. We’re also telling people in Chicago that we’d rather put our money anywhere else in the world but here. And that’s also not the message we want to send. We’re gonna change that.”

When Chicago starts making local investments a priority, Summers said he’s convinced that “the market will follow,” bringing tens of millions of dollars in capital to Chicago neighborhoods.

“We begin by asking the question of every manager that invests with us what their process is for evaluating Chicago investments,” he said.

“In every RFP and every investment management discussion … every board vote, they’re gonna be asked that question. And they’d better have a good answer. If they don’t, they won’t have my support.”

As treasurer, Summers will sit on the boards of five of the city’s pension funds.