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New state entity taps NIU alums to help shape economy

April 22, 2016
Jim Wong

Jim Wong

Jim Wong, founder and CEO of the Chicago-based Brilliant, an award-winning accounting, finance and IT staffing firm, and Carmen Rossi, a Chicago restaurateur and lawyer, have been chosen to serve on the board of directors for the newly formed Illinois Business and Economic Development Corp. (ILBEDC)

The NIU alumni are among the nine Illinois business leaders who will serve on the ILBEDC board. Gov. Bruce Rauner created ILBEDC, a private entity, to assist the Illinois Department of Commerce with economic development and to help companies grow and draw more to the state.

“I certainly believe in this nonpartisan effort to attract, retain and grow businesses in the state of Illinois,” Wong said. “It is extremely important for me – as both a business owner and resident – that we stay focused on this endeavor with all of the challenges the state is currently facing.”

Wong was recently recognized on the Staffing 100 List 2016 for North America as one of the most influential people in the industry and his company was named the No. 1 fastest-growing company on the 2015 Crain’s Chicago Business Fast 50 list. He graduated from NIU with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and is an active member of the Illinois CPA Society and the advisory board for the NIU Department of Accountancy.

Rossi’s connections to the city are expected to have a positive impact on ILBEDC’s efforts as well. He believes that any marginal success that he has had is due to his dynamic network and persistent work ethic.

Carmen Rossi

Carmen Rossi

“My involvement in academic, charitable, community and professional endeavors has been quite diversified,” Rossi said. “As a result, I stand in a stronger position to make a difference in the greater Chicagoland community.”

Through his business, called 8, a Hospitality Company, Rossi manages 12 Chicagoland restaurants, including Juliet’s, the Hubbard Inn and Barn & Co. He also serves on the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, as a board member to the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce PAC and as a board member and officer of the Illinois Restaurant Association.

Rossi earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Illinois and went on to get his law degree at NIU. He specializes in commercial law, with a focus on contracts and appellate court drafting.

He is also committed to giving back to the community. In 2014, he founded Chicago Knight Life. The organization partners with his restaurants to provide meals and service to Chicago charities, including Ronald McDonald House, Little Black Pearl, Sarah’s Circle and Asian Youth Services.