Chicago has the third largest gross metropolitan product in the United States—approximately US$506 billion according to 2007 estimates. The city has also been rated as having the most balanced economy in the United States, due to its high level of diversification. Chicago was named the fourth most important business center in the world in the MasterCard Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index. Additionally, the Chicago metropolitan area recorded the greatest number of new or expanded corporate facilities in the United States for six out of the seven years from 2001 to 2008. The Chicago metropolitan area has the third largest science and engineering work force of any metropolitan area in the nation. In 2009, Chicago placed 9th on the UBS list of the world's richest cities. Chicago was the base of commercial operations for industrialists John Crerar, John Whitfield Bunn, Richard Teller Crane, Marshall Field, John Farwell, Morris Selz, Julius Rosenwald and many other commercial visionaries who laid the foundation for Midwestern and global industry.
Chicago is a major world financial center, with the second largest central business district in the US.The city is the headquarters of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago(the Seventh District of the Federal Reserve). The city is also home to major financial and futures exchanges, including the Chicago Stock Exchange, the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (the "Merc"), which is owned, along with the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) by Chicago's CME Group. The CME Group, in addition, owns the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), the Commodities Exchange Inc. (COMEX) and the Dow Jones Indexes. Perhaps due to the influence of the Chicago school of economics, the city also has markets trading unusual contracts such as emissions (on the Chicago Climate Exchange) and equity style indices (on the U.S. Futures Exchange). Chase Bank has its commercial and retail banking headquarters in Chicago's Chase Tower.
The city and its surrounding metropolitan area are home to the second largest labor pool in the United States with approximately 4.25 million workers. In addition, the state of Illinois is home to 66 Fortune 1000 companies, including those in Chicago. The city of Chicago also hosts 12 Fortune Global 500 companies and 17 Financial Times 500 companies. The city claims one Dow 30 company: aerospace giant Boeing, which moved its headquarters from Seattle to the Chicago Loop in 2001. Two more Dow 30 companies, Kraft Foods and McDonalds are in Chicago suburbs, as are Sears Holdings Corporation and the technology spin-offs of Motorola. Chicago is also home to United Continental Holdings and its United Airlines.
Manufacturing, printing, publishing and food processing also play major roles in the city's economy. Several medical products and services companies are headquartered in the Chicago area, including Baxter International, Boeing, Abbott Laboratories, and the Healthcare Financial Services division of General Electric. Moreover, the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, which helped move goods from the Great Lakes south on the Mississippi River, and of the railroads in the 19th century made the city a major transportation center in the United States. In the 1840s, Chicago became a major grain port, and in the 1850s and 1860s Chicago's pork and beef industry expanded. As the major meat companies grew in Chicago many, such as Armour and Company, created global enterprises. Though the meatpacking industry currently plays a lesser role in the city's economy, Chicago continues to be a major transportation and distribution center. Lured by a combination of large business customers, federal research dollars, and a large hiring pool fed by the area's universities, Chicago is also home to a growing number of web startup companies like CareerBuilder, Orbitz, 37signals, Groupon, and Feedburner.
Late in the 19th century, Chicago was part of the bicycle craze, as home to Western Wheel Company, which introduced stamping to the production process and significantly reduced costs, while early in the 20th century, the city was part of the automobile revolution, hosting the Brass Era car builder Bugmobile, which was founded there in 1907. Chicago was also home to the Schwinn Bicycle Company.
Chicago is a major world convention destination. The city's main convention center is McCormick Place. With its four interconnected buildings, it is the largest convention center in the nation and third largest in the world. Chicago also ranks third in the U.S. (behind Las Vegas and Orlando) in number of conventions hosted annually.