McPier chief Juan Ochoa resigns

Posted May 5, 2010 at 11:00 a.m.

_ochoa125x150.jpgBy Kathy Bergen | Juan Ochoa, chief executive of the agency that runs McCormick Place,
Wednesday announced his resignation, which was widely anticipated. He
said in a statement he intends to work on immigration reform.
Ochoa’s exit as CEO of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority,
or McPier, comes as the General Assembly is preparing to restructure
operations at McCormick Place later this week.

The legislature’s chief adviser on the McCormick Place overhaul is
recommending installation of a state-appointed trustee for an 18-month
transition period. If the General Assembly goes along, this would have
meant Ochoa’s exit.

In a statement, Ochoa said he achieved what he set out to do when he was appointed three years ago by now-ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

“We have continued to work closely with our customers to address their concerns, streamlined our operations, and developed and championed reforms that are critical to position McCormick Place to remain the nation’s premier convention center,” he said in a prepared statement.

Within the past year, McPier has taken steps to cut its spending, including a 20 percent reduction in the size of its full-time work force. As well, it restructured its pool of show-floor electricians, aiming to whittle the pool to the best workers. Its interim board also produced a set of legislative recommendations, which are among those being considered in Springfield.

Prior to his appointment in 2007, Ochoa was president and chief executive of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for 10 years. He also had advised and raised funds for Blagojevich.



  1. endeavors4ever May 5, 2010 at 11:06 a.m.

    Guess we know where his allegiance is to. Good riddance, Juan. You got where you are based on your race/ethnicity and nothing more. We’ll be seeing more of this nonsense as our society diversifies.

  2. Alberto Ortega May 5, 2010 at 11:23 a.m.

    You should “endeavor” to pay more RESPECT to Juan Ochoa.

  3. nvueir May 5, 2010 at 11:31 a.m.

    [[endeavors4ever | May 5, 2010 11:06 AM | Reply
    Guess we know where his allegiance is to. Good riddance, Juan. You got where you are based on your race/ethnicity and nothing more. We'll be seeing more of this nonsense as our society diversifies.]]
    our society is already the most diverse in the world. if you mean that there will be more latinos in the population, then you are correct. higher birth rates and unchecked immigration will do that for you.
    [["We have continued to work closely with our customers to address their concerns, streamlined our operations, and developed and championed reforms that are critical to position McCormick Place to remain the nation's premier convention center," he said in a prepared statement.]]
    Translation: We have seen major clients flee to other cities to escape our outrageous rules and fees. We recently have adopted a more consumer-friendly rhetoric. I think it is horse dung and am fleeing to work on something else

  4. legacychi May 5, 2010 at 11:31 a.m.

    “You got where you are based on your race/ethnicity and nothing more”. Wow! Do you even know his business background or qualifications?? This is exactly why the Arizona laws are equated to racial profiling. Ignorant people like you who don’t have facts making stupid comments. Good luck Juan with immigration reform!

  5. AnnoyedwithIncompetence May 5, 2010 at 11:54 a.m.

    I am glad he left and as a fellow Latino was ashamed that he was considered a leader. His leadership and results at McPier would never fly in a real corporation so why should he stay and continue to run what should be a money-making business with a lack of skills. As a supporter of immigration reform, he’s lack of leadership and incompetence is not going to help this situation.

  6. Desmondo Jose Ruiz May 5, 2010 at 11:55 a.m.

    “Ochoa said he achieved what he set out to do when he was appointed three years ago”
    Great work, Juan. You help run the convention service into the ground and on the verge of being privatized. Some top notch work. I’m sure Vegas and Orlando are sad to see you go.

  7. Al langevin May 5, 2010 at 11:58 a.m.

    Let’s see a friend of Blago, that made him uniquely qualified to mismanage McCormick Place. Great job Juan. Of course there has to be a Madigan connection as well.

  8. Tired of IL May 5, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Gee, such a worthwhile endeavor…wait while I roll my eyes. Guess he is used to dealing with lawbreakers!

  9. No Illegals ...PERIOD! May 5, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Since when is letting criminals off, who willfully break our Country’s laws, considered “Reform” ? ? ? ? ? ?

  10. Sorino May 5, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    The dire situation at McCormick Place shows the folly and perils of political and politically correct appointments over the seeking of the most experienced, most accomplished persons in the nation. How much worse could McPier have done in the recent past to warrant the drastic changes so badly needed? Lost shows, runaway employee work procedures, high costs, and unhappy show organizers and attendees. If this were racing, it would be a quad-fecta of disaster. There are a lot of culprits in the mix at McPier; it will be interesting to see how many remain after the reorganization.

  11. Joe May 5, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Now that he is finished working his ‘magic’ here, he can work his ‘magic’ over there.

  12. earnit May 5, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    How about some immigration ENFORCEMENT for a change.
    Including, when a foreign country has jusridiction on you, you cannot have birthright. No USA citizen parent, no birthright

  13. ethan May 5, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    We need reform of another kind. If I may suggest: Government employees who quit under political pressure or are removed from office forcibly, shall forfeit their collective pensions and be banned from attaining other publicly financed jobs, either direclty or indirectly related to public works.
    Ochoa is walking away after serving time as a political hack, putting time in towards a “pension” he doesn’t deserve, destroying an institution that he was “hand” picked to lead, and is moving on to another “hot” topic du jour. As a consultant? As a NPO community organizer? As a lackey in yet another government? It’s time for a change and the residents of Illinois should never be forced to see this guy on the public dole again.

  14. Portage Parker May 5, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Sorry but Ochoa has proven himself to be nothing more than connected bureaucrat defending the status quo…..And now positions himself as a paid apolgist for lawbreakers.

  15. RyanC May 5, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    Ochoa was always more interested in preserving union jobs and above-market wages and benefits than in bringing more business to Chicago. Good riddance.

  16. BDD May 5, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    So this Ochoa person is going to help his own people get amnisty for their ILLEGAL behavior? I find that interesting, especially today. Isn’t this Chinco de Mayo, or whatever it is called, the day that the mexicans defeated the foreigners. So this means that mexicans are RACIST for wanting the French out of their country? VIVA LA FRANCE!

  17. jack (the real one) May 5, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    I was going to ask if “working for immigration reform” paid better than a cushy political job. The Tribune tries to explain this by saying that the legislature is about to abolish his job. However, since the legislature is also reported to be leaving town to celebrate Mothers’ Day and not return into regular session, I wonder about that.
    There still must be money in “immigration reform.”

  18. ministerR May 5, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Another empty suited crook. While I don’t believe he is totally responsible for what happened at McPier, he was just another unqualified insider – who had zero clue on what he was doing – sitting back collecting a pay check from the machine.
    Every time I talk to this clown it is all fluff and all about him. I am tired and embarrassed by these losers being held up as some kind role model in “our” community.
    If he does half of what he has done for McPier for Immigration reform, then Arizona has nothing to worry about.

  19. endeavors4ever May 5, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Alberto Ortega | May 5, 2010 11:23 AM | Reply
    You should “endeavor” to pay more RESPECT to Juan Ochoa
    You bet, Al. I’ll get write on it. He did not have a clue what he was doing. That is why the legislature took control of McPier. Wake up, amigo.

  20. ethan May 5, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    (Real) Jack, Whenever you hear a politician claiming “I’m going to organize a “blue” ribbon committee to investigate the issue”, you can bet that guys like Ochoa (professional lackeys) are on the short list of potential hires. The fact the Ochoa uses “immigration reform” to justify his departure speaks volumes to my interior cynic. In short, Ochoa is telling me that he’s going to work for another political body as a consultant, for which we will have to pay.
    To date, here is what we know: Ochoa is hand picked to lead a troubled entity, makes matters worse thereby losing the state and city millions in tax revenue and winds up on the dole as a consultant. Or worse yet, lands another state job to keep his pension time running.
    It is time to kick the Illinois Combine out. Vote out all the incumbents at the next possible opportunity and start afresh. We are getting the shaft because of our elected “officials”. We can do better. We deserve better.

  21. Chicago 20 May 5, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    I hope when Juan goes home today, he will tell his family how lucky he was to have that job.

  22. Yolande May 5, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Most of you who know nothing about the shows at McPier keep repeating nonsense. The convention center lost ONE show. HIMMS was never a McPier convention they came to Chicago because they could not have their convention at New Orleans as result of Katrina. You can’t lose what you NEVER had so before you know nothing put your nose in something you know NOTHING about why don’t you do a little research first. How many shows did the convention really lose? Do you even know?

  23. Chicago 20 May 5, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    @ Yolanda
    They lost one show that came to Chicago every three years, the SPI-NPE Plastic Show.
    Chicago has added the ASCO Show and the BIO show.
    So, how did we get here?
    Was it the price of Pepsi?
    Was it the mystery booth at the HiMMS Show?
    Was it the SPI-NPE Cost Comparison a few days later?
    Was it Christine Heftman’s of the National Restaurant Association, testimony to the legislative committees hearing?
    No, it cannot be, because none of these stories were true.
    The price for Pepsi is more in Orlando, the electrical pricing is not 10 times more in Chicago, the electrical pricing is not 48% less in Orlando, and Ms. Heftman clearly had her facts wrong.
    My question is, why did Juan Ochoa refuse to confront these obviously false accusations about McCormick Place in the media?

  24. Ed Donnelly May 5, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    This guy was an embarassment across the board.
    The best thing he could do for immigration reform is keep his hands out of it.

  25. Let him go May 5, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    I think this is great news!
    He wrecked mcPIer on behalf of King Daley and the Unions, maybe he can finish off the wreck Gutierrez has done to immigration.

  26. Bears Fan 2010 May 5, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    They weep tonight in Orlando and Las Vegas.

  27. Berwyn Hispanic May 5, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    I am sure he will…
    Actually, “this guy” has been thankful much longer than just in the past three years. Thankful that he was fortunate enough to grow-up and earn an education in the US, that he served his country as a Marine in the Middle East and came home safely, that he was given an opportunity to grow both a small community organization and a business association respectively into a powerful NFP and Chamber, and, that our elected officials took a chance on “this guy” to use his experience, his network and his authority to keep McPier on track as an $8B/year engine.
    How did that all work out for him…we know the outcome. However, let us not belittle the fact that “this guy” has worked tirelessly to make inroads for the Latino community. As a Latino professional, I thank him for that.
    Finally, it’s obvious that some of the comments posted here may come from personal frustration or rejection. But, please do not overlook that McPier is a Public Entity and as such held regular public meetings:
    in which any of the concerns posted could have and should have been addressed.
    In the words of my attorney friend, ‘Nuff said

  28. Chicago 20 May 5, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    @ Berwyn
    My question is, why did Juan Ochoa refuse to confront these obviously false accusations about McCormick Place in the media?

  29. Chicago 20 May 5, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    @ Berwyn
    You feel a need to stick up for Ochoa, why didn’t Ochoa feel that same need stick up for McCormick Place and the people that depend on McCormick Place to earn a living?

  30. fredb May 5, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Yep, Juan Ochoa has been a total success! The fraud and mismanagement at McCormick and Navy Pier continue to be astounding, including:
    - The International Plastics Exposition is moving to Orlando, Fla., where convention officials say the cost of putting on a convention is much lower. The convention had been held in Chicago since 1971.
    - Chicago lost Healthcare Information and Management Systems annual meeting, which was at McCormick Place for the first time this year. The group balked when the services of unionized electricians cost them $240,000, and will be in Las Vegas next time.
    - Championship Auto Shows Inc. has held its O’Reilly Auto Parts World of Wheels Show at McCormick Place for all of its 48-year history. But come next March, it will be at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont instead.
    - The National Restaurant Association is also considering moving its convention from Chicago, but is staying for the time being.
    And that’s only in the last year! Now he moves on to rationalizing to the rest of the country how illegal aliens shoud not be treated like criminals. Here’s an idea – tell them all to leave and apply through normal channels like the rest of the world.

  31. Jeff H. May 5, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Adios on Cinco de Mayo…all for the better. This guy is a dope and had zero educational background or experience for the job he was theortically doing. Bye bye moron.

  32. Jeff H. May 5, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Berwyn Hispanic, what level of education did “this guy” have? A HS diploma at best. He didn’t even have a college degree and he was in that position? What a joke. Adios Juan.

  33. Chicago 20 May 5, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    @ fredb
    The Plastic Show cost comparison is a joke, they even said it is cheaper to travel from the Midwest to Orlando.
    Can you believe hotel rooms in Orlando are less expensive than Chicago, the week before Easter?
    The HiMMS show CEO made the statement and offered NO proof, despite repeated requests.
    The truth is not in the newspapers.
    Why is the NRA Show charging $28.50 per square foot, plus drayage at McCormick Place while Pack-Expo is charging $24.50 per square foot and including drayage?
    Is it the same reason the NRA Show is in decline while the Pack-Expo Show is growing?