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by Kaylee Hultgren | February 10, 2010

Chicago's trade show business has been under fire in recent weeks, with the loss of two major conventions due to high labor costs, followed by the ill-received labor reform legislation introduced by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority. The focus now has shifted toward the issue of executive pay at the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, Warren Ribley, director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, sent a letter to Mike Cassidy, a local Starwood hotel executive and chair of the convention bureau board, urging the organization to commit to a fiscally responsible program, through actions such as freezing salaries and eliminating bonuses. Cassidy responded that he plans to take the recommendations to the board and officers. According to the Tribune article, the bureau gets approximately two thirds of its $13.8 million budget from city and state taxes. Nearly a third of its 62 employees earned more than $100,000 in the 2009 fiscal year.