Growth is on the agenda at ACG Chicago's 2014 Midwest ACG Capital Connection, convening at the Windy City's McCormick Center Oct. 21. Mergers & Acquisitions will be there, conducting video interviews with leading dealmakers.

This year's conference is all about more time, more space and more scheduling, says ACG Chicago CEO Craig Miller. "We've doubled the space where everyone can sit down and actually meet," Miller says.

The conference will feature a new Minority Finance Forum, which will focus on expanding access to capital and expertise to minority business enterprises (MBEs). The forum is part of a collaboration beween ACG Chicago and the U.S. Department of Commerce's Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), which was established in 1969 by President Richard Nixon. Under President Barack Obama, the agency has grown. Alejandra Castillo (pictured), the national director of the MBDA, is among the speakers at the event. 

A networking breakfast for female dealmakers is also on the agenda. Participants will hear from JoAnn Price, the co-founder of Fairview Capital, a West Hartford, Connecticut-based private equity firm.

Lunchtime on Oct. 21 will serve as an awards ceremony. At this year's event, Carl Thoma (pictured), the founder of Chicago private equity firm Thoma Bravo LLC, is receiving ACG Chicago's Lifetime Achievement Award. Thoma began his career at First Chicago Equity Group, where he helped to build one of the largest private equity firms in the country. Thoma also co-founded GTCR LLC, winner of Mergers & Acquisitions' M&A Mid-Market Private Equity Firm of the Year for 2013.

Thoma Bravo is known for investing in consolidating sectors, and it currently owns security technology group Blue Coat Systems Inc. and software company Deltek Inc. In September, Thoma Bravo agreed to buy Compuware Corp. in a deal valued at $2.5 billion, after activist investor Elliott Management Corp. put pressure on Compuware, a business software provider, to sell.

Michael Binstein, CEO of Gold Standard Enterprises and a former investigative reporter in Washington D.C., will be honored with ACG Chicago's Corporate Growth Award. Binstein is the CEO of the parent company of Binny's Beverage Depot, a chain of liquor stores that has expanded through organic and M&A growth, including the purchase of the store's long-time rival, Sam's Wine & Spirits in 2009. The chain now has 30 stories and has grown more than 100 percent over five years.

Miller expects this year's conference to draw roughly 1,200 attendees, including private equity firms and investment bankers. Aside from PE firms GTCR and Thoma Bravo, Chicago is home to investment banks William Blair, Lincoln International and lenders like Monroe Capital LLC, Madison Capital Funding LLC and NXT Capital LLC.

William Blair won Mergers & Acquisitions' M&A Mid-Market Investment Bank of the Year Award for 2011, while the firm's global head of M&A, Mark Brady, won Mergers & Acquisitions' M&A Mid-Market Dealmaker of the Year Award for 2012. Lincoln International took home the Mergers & Acquisitions M&A Mid-Market Investment Bank of the Year award for 2013; NXT Capital won the Mergers & Acquisitions M&A Mid-Market Lender of the Year award for 2011; and Madison Capital won the same award for 2012.

The conference also has a mobile application that will allow dealmakers to sort through other attendees by profession and sector to enhance networking opportunities.

--Additional reporting by Mary Kathleen Flynn

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