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Making Money Across America: Chicago -- Video Roundup


"Power Lunch" is on tour with its eight-city "Making Money Across America" road show,

which kicked off in Chicago Sept. 7. Program co-hosts Bill Griffeth and Sue Herera sat down with top CEOs, money managers and entrepreneurs to talk about about business and investing opportunities in those cities.

The road show, which concludes Oct. 26 in Minneapolis, is taking the pulse of American business as well as the broader economy in cities as diverse as Seattle and Charlotte. The "Power Lunch" team will also visit San Francisco, St. Louis,Denver and Philadelphia.

Here's some highlights of the CEO interviews on the program Friday.

Powering Up Chicago

John W. Rowe , CEO, Exelon

The company is one of the nation's largest electricity providers with to 5.4 million customers in Illinois and Pennsylvania and ranks 150 on the Fortune 500 list.

Rowe, who has run electric utility companies for two decades, says the company is keeping an eye on potential acquisitions, but given industry competition, "prices tend to be very high."

As for balancing the tremendous demand for energy with environmental concerns, Rowe says having the nation's largest fleet of nuclear plants makes Exelon a leader because they are the best low-carbon source.

Rowe says the company is "supporting increased energy efficiency programs." Exelon recently did a solar project in Pennsylvania.  As for alternative energy sources in general, Rowe says its "very hard for the delivery company to make money, but some of the big developers are."

U.S. Cellular CEO

John Rooney, CEO, U.S. Cellular

Rooney has been CEO of the nation's sixth largest wireless carrier since April 2000. The company, which serves  6 million customers in 26 states,  posted a 14.5% increase in second-quarter revenue, drive partly by growth in its subscriber base. Rooney says the company will focus on building existing markets and has no plans to enter new ones this year.

Part of Rooney's success since taking the helm has been a focus on the customer. "It has helped us grow, grow fast," he says. "We've been able to sustain our growth."

Rooney says more attention needs to be paid to rural areas, where telephone service is lacking, which hurts economic development.  Serving that niche market has "worked out well" for U.S. Cellular, says Rooney.

Rooney, who worked at the Chicago Fed, says Chairman Ben Bernanke "is doing the right thing" in his handling the credit crunch and the economy in general.

Stocks Blown Away by Jobs

Charles P. Carey, Vice Chairman , CME Group

Carey, who was chairman of the Chicago Board of Trade before its merger with the CME,  has been vice chairman since July 2007. Since that time, business has been booming, as market volatility pumped up trading volume. Overall, August volume was up 78%, while equities, options and foreign exchange contract volume recently set records.

Carey says the "agricultural markets have been exciting for the past 18 months and I don't see an end to it in the near future."

The CME Group is the world's largest derivatives exchange, following its merger of the Chicago Board of Trade.

"Electronic trading has really grown these markets," Carey says, adding that growing interest from retail investors and the use of derivatives as a hedging strategy have also boosted trading volume.

Chicago Companies On The Program