There’s a changing of the guard at the public-private job growth agency that will play a major role in rebuilding a Chicago economy decimated by the coronavirus pandemic and two rounds of looting.
Andrea Zopp is stepping down Dec. 31 after three years as president and CEO of World Business Chicago. She’s joining Cleveland Avenue, a venture capital firm run by former McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson that specializes in investing in innovative food, beverage and restaurant concepts.
Michael Fassnacht, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s $1-a-year chief marketing officer, will serve as interim CEO while the board of World Business Chicago conducts a nationwide search for Zopp’s permanent successor.
“I have a tremendous opportunity to do hands-on the work that I’ve been … pushing for at WBC, which is supporting minority- and women-owned entrepreneurs and growing those businesses here,” Zopp, 63, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
“It’s critically important for us to build wealth in our Black and Brown communities. And I’m now gonna be able to go work with Don Thompson … to help make that happen. For me, it was just a natural next step.”
In August, World Business Chicago was forced to absorb what Zopp described as a “seven-figure” budget cut that eliminated nine of its 39 staff positions.
“We cut the budget because, like everybody else, the pandemic impacted our revenues. You have to be structured so you can survive it. If you don’t survive it, then it doesn’t really matter if you have a lot