Tar­get’s de­ci­sion high­lights Chicago’s, state’s poor busi­ness pol­icy de­ci­sions

Daily Southtown (Sunday) - - OPINION - By Dan McCaleb DanMcCaleb is ed­i­tor of Illi­noisNewsNet­work and the dig­i­tal hub ILNews.org.

Pick­eters re­cently ral­lied out­side aChicagoTar­get store, protest­ing the re­tail gi­ant’s de­ci­sion to close two stores on the city’s South Side.

That’s their right, but per­haps th­ese pick­eters also should have ral­lied out­side of Ci­tyHall— and the state Capi­tol in Spring­field— to protest the types of poor pol­icy de­ci­sions that make it dif­fi­cult for busi­nesses in Illi­nois to suc­ceed.

The South Side stores will close in Fe­bru­ary de­spite ef­forts byMayor Rahm Emanuel and other city of­fi­cials to per­suade Tar­get to do oth­er­wise. Cor­po­rate of­fi­cials said the de­ci­sion­was “dif­fi­cult” but came af­ter years of de­clin­ing fi­nan­cial per­for­mance at the two stores. At the same time, Tar­get con­tin­ues to ex­pand in Chicago’s more af­flu­ent down­town andNorth Side neigh­bor­hoods.

Many South Siders are un­der­stand­ably upset at los­ing con­ve­nient shop­ping op­tions, par­tic­u­larly when the com­pany is grow­ing nearby.

It doesn’t seem fair. Politi­cians used the op­por­tu­nity to blast greedy cor­po­rate Amer­ica— specif­i­cal­lyTar­get— for car­ing only about prof­its and not about poorer neigh­bor­hoods.

Yes, busi­nesses should be good cor­po­rate cit­i­zens. They should make every ef­fort to pick up poorer per­form­ing stores in less af­flu­ent neigh­bor­hoods with prof­its from­suc­cess­ful stores else­where.

But elected of­fi­cials who are spew­ing po­lit­i­cal rhetoric by ex­clu­sively blam­ing “bad” cor­po­rate Amer­ica for de­ci­sions such as this pur­pose­fully ig­nore the re­al­i­ties of the busi­ness cli­mate they’ve cre­ated.

Tar­get and other busi­nesses don’t op­er­ate in a vac­uum. There are fi­nan­cial pres­sures placed on th­ese job cre­ators other than where their stores are lo­cated.

Chicago is a no­to­ri­ously high-tax, high-reg­u­la­tion city, just as Illi­nois is a no­to­ri­ously high-tax, high­reg­u­la­tion state.

While the fed­eral min- imumwage is $7.25 an hour, Chicago’s is $12 an hour nowand will in­crease to $13 an hour on July 1, 2019.

Con­sumers pay the high­est com­bined lo­cal and state sales taxes in Chicago at 10.25 per­cent.

Prop­erty taxes are among the high­est in the na­tion and con­tinue to climb.

Illi­nois has the high­est work­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion costs in theMid­west, and the city and state gov­ern­ments have among the strictest busi­ness reg­u­la­tions any­where.

Yes, them­i­ni­mumwage is the same on theNorth Side of Chicago as it is on the South Side, just as the sales tax is. But when a com­pa­ny­weighs all of th­ese fac­tors, in­clud­ing a store’s over­all per­for­mance, it has to make dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions.

Now­imag­ine the strug­gles down­state busi­nesses face with the same high prop­erty taxes, work­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion costs and reg­u­la­tory bur­den. Imag­ine if Chicago’s min­i­mumwage hikeswere forced on job cre­ators in the more ru­ral parts of Illi­nois, as some state law­mak­ers sup­port.

The fact is, pol­icy de­ci­sions have con­se­quences. The City of Chicago’s and the State of Illi­nois’ pol­icy de­ci­sions have been markedly anti-busi­ness. And they don’t help com­pa­nies likeTar­get when they have to make tough de­ci­sions about store clo­sures and jobs.

Illi­nois Cham­ber of Com­merceCEOTodd Maisch, in re­sponse to the an­nounce­ment that Ama­zon­was pass­ing over Chicago in fa­vor of two East Coast cities’ bids to host its new head­quar­ters, told Illi­noisNewsNet­work that the state’s busi­ness cli­mate has to be fixed.

“Sim­ply jack­ing up taxes and con­tin­u­ing to spend howwe spend is not the an­swer,” Maisch said. “It goes to the old no­tion that if you’re in a hole, stop dig­ging. We are con­tin­u­ing to dig.”

Gover­nor-elect J.B. Pritzker takes of­fice in Jan­uary. Will he be bring­ing a shovel with him?

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