What will you do as mayor to bring jobs to the city and boost economic development?

Jobs & Economy

Business Development Grants
Rather than provide the customary tax break incentives to Fortune 100
companies in an attempt to convince them to relocate their headquarters in
Chicago, we wil focus on the assistance and development of local Chicago
businesses. Consequently, we will establish a series of Public-Private
Partnerships funded by $1 Billion dollars of the City of Chicago’s existing
$7,9 Billion Dollar Capital Improvement Program. Specifically, over a period
of four years, we will identify 1,000 small to medium sized Chicago based
businesses, which are industry and geographically diverse, and provide
each of them a $1 million dollar jobs creation grant. There shall be strict
administration of this grant program. The disbursement of funds will be
periodic and tied to the attainment of standardized benchmarks. Monitors
will ensure strict compliance with all established guidelines. Our goal is to
help these reputable Chicago businesses grow; introduce their products,
good and services into the national and global stream of commerce; increase
production; and create 50 sustainable jobs. Overall, this initiative will result
in a total of 50,000 permanent private sector jobs.
Grocers Community Owned and Operated
This Government Funded and Community Driven initiative is a Public-Private
Partnership which will take four years to complete. It will be funded using
the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) available in the targeted TIF district areas.
Ultimately, this initiative will result in the creation of 20 Big Box Grocery
stores, 60 mid-sized Neighborhood Markets, an estimated 5,000 Construction
jobs, 20,000 permanent Grocery Store Industry jobs, and 25,000 residual,
self perpetuating, private sector jobs.
Our goal is to bring relief to Chicago’s underserved communities. Specifically,
we endeavor to significantly reduce Chicago’s comparatively high
unemployment level and help eradicate the Food Deserts which persist and
debilitate 27 of Chicago’s 77 Communities.
The average cost of development and completion will be Fifteen Million
Dollars ($15,000,000) for the Big Box Grocery stores and Five Million Dollars
($5,000,000) for the mid sized Neighborhood Markets. The total program
cost, including the purchase and preparation of the real estate, infrastructure
development, building costs, and the purchase of equipment and goods,will
be Six Hundred Million Dollars ($600,000,000).

We should all celebrate the fact our Central Business District is growing again, as the nation emerges from the Great Recession. Continuing this growth and expanding prosperity across the entire City will require a real investment in our neighborhoods. That is why I have put forward an agenda to strengthen our neighborhood-based schools and make our streets safer in every community. Great cities have great neighborhoods, and we simply cannot attract new high-growth industries to our city without strong neighborhoods where their workers will want to live.
We have invested heavily in developing the downtown area and making it more attractive for the last 20 years. It is truly a success that we can and should be proud of. We should be pleased this investment is paying off with over 540,000 jobs now located in the downtown area. We want these workers to stay and live in Chicago, raise their families here and pay their taxes here. However, not everyone who works downtown can or will live downtown. That is why we need vibrant neighborhoods for these workers to live in – communities with safe streets, good schools and local retail options for shopping, as well as affordable housing opportunities.
Just as our neighborhoods depend on each other, our City depends on the continued growth of Northeastern Illinois. As Mayor, I will work collaboratively with surrounding communities to fund our airports and other transportation modes, secure stable power sources, and strengthen communications lines, because these are the necessary ingredients to continued economic growth.
Downtown may be the crown jewel of the city economy, but the neighborhoods must be regarded as forming the crown itself. The industrial corridors on the City’s west, south and northwest sides are the historic backbone of the City’s economy. The businesses in the corridors were the sources of thousands of good paying jobs. These wage earners put their kids through school, supported a vibrant local retail economy, and paid the taxes that made Chicago the City that Works.
The new Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute on Goose Island can play an important role in bringing new manufacturing back into the city, but this can only happen if we work with manufacturing innovators, neighborhood community development organizations, new breeds of venture capitalists, and the real estate community to re-shape these old corridors into new manufacturing centers. But, it does not stop with just DMDII. Argonne is a major player in the research on new battery design: batteries that range from large scale systems for storing electricity generated by windmills to batteries that can power a vehicle for long distances. Our focus should be on creating the right kinds of conditions for businesses that are innovating new ways to take advantage of these emerging technologies to meet the needs of global markets.
A Garcia administration will begin with a comprehensive assessment of the City’s transportation network of streets, highways, rail, water and airport systems from the viewpoint of what needs to be done to improve the viabilityof manufacturing, warehousing and commercial spaces that comprise the economic framework of the City.

I believe in economic empowerment and stimulating the growth of communities through strong, new business opportunities. I propose to take city owned empty lots, vacant buildings and potentially other, larger buildings and sell them to members of communities and people who want to start new business for one dollar, as we have done before. I have also detailed my ideas to reform the TIF process. We also need to create incentives for new businesses to come to Chicago,
Specifically, one of the most historically suspected corrupt areas of this city has been in the award of contracts to insiders and a network of campaign contributors of politicians. The City of Chicago hands out contracts with a value of over $2 billion dollars of goods and services each and every year. We must ensure that all of our citizens have a fair and equal chance for this powerful economic opportunity and that it is not stripped away in a back room. These opportunities must be awarded in the communities where the opportunities are.
We propose to establish a Small Business Regulatory Fairness Board similar to those that have been so successful at the SBA, to ensure Equal Opportunity and Transparency for anyone interested in a contract with the City of Chicago. This board will be made up equally of community members, businessmen and lawyers, on a rotating basis, not long-term insider appointments. Communities will be allowed to appoint these individuals from their own community. We believe it is better to give our own community businesses new economic opportunity to create local jobs and build stronger local businesses' than to raise taxes on the little guy. I will propose legislation that any contract awards must be tied to community hiring requirements and verified.

Our strategy to bring in jobs has to be more than handing out tax breaks to big corporations. It's a placebo that doesn't do nearly as much for our economic growth as we are told it does. Yes, we need to be smart about attracting large companies that want to add to our tax base and employ our people, but many of these companies want or need to be here anyway.
My platform calls for using some of the money we save by slowing down corporate tax breaks (and TIF reform) to develop vocational classes, job-training, employment-readiness classes and business start-up programs for people across all our communities and neighborhoods. This empowers the people who most need opportunity to take part in the economic growth only a part of our city is enjoying now.
I would expand on what I have accomplished in my two terms as Alderman. For example, I worked with Rush Hospital in their expansion to make certain jobs went to residents. As Alderman, I have also fostered a climate to support small business development and growth in our neighborhoods and plan to be more business friendly to small business owners.
Finally, any business expert will tell you one of the things companies need the most is a skilled, well-trained, well-educated labor force. They are willing to pay for good labor and to locate where it is available. That is much more attractive to a growing business than a property tax break, and better for the city and its people.

I took office on the heels of the worst recession since the Great Depression and after a decade in which 200,000 Chicagoans left the city. Soon after becoming mayor, I convened experts and stakeholders from across the city to create a Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs. We have used this plan as a roadmap, focusing on recruiting companies and growing those that are already here as well as making Chicago a better place to do start and grow a business. We have also made a series of strategic investments in high growth industries such as digital manufacturing, advanced batteries, and technology services. Chicago is starting to see results: the economy has grown by 73,000 jobs since I took office and unemployment is down by a third since 2011, a larger drop than any major city in the U.S.
From day one we focused on kick starting economic growth in our neighborhoods. In my first few months of taking office, we put the employer head tax – which reduced incentives to hire new workers by taxing business owners for each employee – on the road to elimination by the end of 2013. This reform has saved business owners $40 million from 2012 – 2014 and will save them $25 million a year going forward. We secured $6 million from the Bloomberg Foundation to create an innovation team in the Mayors office that focuses mainly on improving the business climate in Chicago. In two years, the team slashed the number of licenses by 60 percent and is saving business owners $1.3 million a year in reduced license fees. They also streamlined the startup process for new restaurants and reduced the time to open a restaurant by 33 percent, and established the Small Business Center, which has reduced the time a business owner stands in line at City Hall by 50 percent.
We also invested $1 million in launching the first-in-the-nation microlending program that has since helped more than 120 small business owners with $1.1 million in loans and will help 100 businesses a year in the future. And through the “Chicago Neighborhoods Now” plan, we have helped bring $4 billion in public and private investment to seven targeted neighborhoods in the city for coordinated public and private investment initiatives. The plan brought a revitalized Red Line South and billions of dollars in other public transit, water and street investments. It also brought Method’s first manufacturing facility in the U.S. to the Pullman neighborhood, a Whole Foods to Englewood, and the $45.6 million “Shops and Lofts” project at 47th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, among others.
Though our economy is on the mend and our downtown is the fastest growing in the country, we must do more to ensure that residents in every neighborhood benefit from this growth. In the next four years, we will build upon our citywide economic plan by creating growth plans for each of our neighborhoods. We will work to identify additional incentives for bringing businesses and jobs to struggling neighborhoods. Following our success at reducing the number of business licenses by 60 percent and slashing the amount of time it takes to start a restaurant by one-third, I will implement reforms to streamline our permitting and zoning processes. We will expand lending options for our small businesses, based on the success of our microlending program. And we will maintain momentum in our high-growth industries like technology, advanced manufacturing, energy, and biomedicine by identifying new reforms and incentives and partnering with the federal and state governments to invest further.