LIGHT­FOOT URGES BUSI­NESS LEAD­ERS TO JOIN HER IN ‘SEC­OND CHICAGO RE­NAIS­SANCE’

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY FRAN SPIELMAM, CITY HALL RE­PORTER fspiel­man@sun­times.com | @fspiel­man

Mayor Lori Light­foot on Thurs­day urged cor­po­rate ti­tans to help Chicago re­build more eq­ui­tably — and stop the epi­demic of gang vi­o­lence — af­ter the eco­nomic dev­as­ta­tion cre­ated by the coro­n­avirus and the civil un­rest caused by the death of Ge­orge Floyd.

One week af­ter un­veil­ing her blue­print for a “sec­ond Chicago re­nais­sance,” Light­foot ex­horted the Ex­ec­u­tives’ Club of Chicago to par­tic­i­pate by fol­low­ing what she called a “new eco­nomic model based on dy­namic, in­clu­sive growth.”

Light­foot said she’s pre­pared to lead the way with her $750 mil­lion In­vest South/ West plan to re­build 10 in­ner-city neigh­bor­hoods.

But the city, phil­an­thropic and com­mu­nity-based or­ga­ni­za­tions together “ac­count for, at most, 20% of the city’s eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity” and “can­not do this alone,” she said.

“It’s our busi­ness com­mu­nity — all of you — that make up the other 80%. And un­til that 80% finds a new way to in­vest in our peo­ple and our neigh­bor­hoods, the grind­ing poverty and the vi­o­lence born out of des­per­a­tion and de­spair sim­ply will not end. But when we put that 80 per­cent to work in our neigh­bor­hoods, any­thing is pos­si­ble,” the mayor said.

In a we­bi­nar with hun­dreds of pow­er­ful par­tic­i­pants, Light­foot out­lined what she called “five things you, our busi­ness lead­ers and en­trepreneur­s, can do right now to help.”

They are:

Up­date their pro­cure­ment prac­tices to find ways to “hire more lo­cal Black- and Brown-owned busi­nesses.”

“Don’t just go for jan­i­to­rial or se­cu­rity or cater­ing ser­vices. Think about our profession­al ser­vices. We have great tal­ent in ac­count­ing, IT, le­gal and in­vest­ment. All have strong mi­nor­ity busi­nesses right here in Chicago who have been at it for years and de­liver high-qual­ity ser­vices,” the mayor said, not­ing that the city is “lead­ing by ex­am­ple.”

Di­ver­sify hir­ing and build an em­ploy­ment pipe­line through cor­po­rate “in­tern­ships, ap­pren­tice­ships and scholarshi­ps” for young peo­ple.

“The C-suites of our com­pa­nies and our first lay­ers be­low aren’t ex­actly re­flec­tive of the di­ver­sity of our great city. You can help change that by mak­ing a pledge to di­ver­sify your work­force at all lev­els. You could also make a pledge to ad­dress the un­der­ly­ing chal­lenges re­lated to work­force di­ver­sity by cre­at­ing a dy­namic part­ner­ship and in­vest­ment in … Chicago Public Schools and City Col­leges,” she said.

Once again, Light­foot said the city is “putting our money where our mouth is” by strength­en­ing part­ner­ships be­tween CPS and City Col­leges “to build more path­ways and pipe­lines for our stu­dents from their first day in pre-K to the day they walk across the stage at grad­u­a­tion.”

Put more cap­i­tal in Black and Brown com­mu­ni­ties. Light­foot noted BMO Har­ris and Star­bucks each made a $10 mil­lion com­mit­ment to her In­vest South/West pro­gram.

“But the truth is, we need more. These kinds of com­mit­ments will lead to in­vest­ment re­turn in our com­mu­ni­ties for gen­er­a­tions. It can be trans­for­ma­tive,” she said.

Move their places of busi­ness to the more “af­ford­able real es­tate” in Chicago neigh­bor­hoods. Once again, the city is lead­ing by ex­am­ple, re­lo­cat­ing the city depart­ment now known as As­sets, In­for­ma­tion and Ser­vices to En­gle­wood and the Chicago Park District head­quar­ters to Brighton Park.

In­vest di­rectly in the city’s new “Together Now” fund.

“We’re cre­at­ing a $1 bil­lion-plus fund of cash and in-kind com­mit­ments to pro­vide sup­port to Chicago’s busi­nesses on the South and West sides. With pledges and com­mit­ment to this fund, we’ll be able to bet­ter sup­port the re­cov­ery ef­forts and ini­tia­tives like In­vest South/West,” she said.

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