A roundtable meeting with Chicago business leaders convened today by Mayor Richard M. Daley produced recommendations that can be implemented immediately to help kick-start the local economy.
“Today I asked a group of Chicago business leaders to sit down with me for one important reason: the worldwide recession has become a crisis and, we know that the nation's recession will deepen before it gets better.
“As leaders of our city, we have a shared responsibility to do all we can to help protect our economy and our working families, many of whom are struggling to make it through these tough times,” Daley said at a news conference after the meeting, which was held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, 230 S. LaSalle St.
The group of more than 30 business leaders was drawn from the major sectors of the city’s economy and represented both large and small businesses.
“We understand that families are hurting and struggling to get by and pay their bills. We understand that people are at risk of losing their jobs and their homes. But, we also know that when people are employed and able to spend their earnings -- then companies will thrive and our city revenues will grow,” the Mayor said.
The “Business Leaders Economic Roundtable” heard presentations on the state of the economy by Charles Evans, Chairman of the Chicago Federal Reserve Board, and Michael Moskow, Vice Chairman and Senior Fellow for Global Economy, Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
The Mayor reviewed a series of steps the City of Chicago has taken to protect our economy and working families including agreements to lease Midway Airport and our city's parking meters, steps to update our job training and tourism program, and our efforts to protect homeowners from foreclosure and get tax relief.
"The Midway and parking meter agreements will enable us to invest in our infrastructure and create jobs at the very time they are needed," Daley said.
Moskow then led a roundtable discussion that produced a set of actions that can be implemented immediately to give momentum to Chicago’s economic recovery.
“Over the next several months, the City, World Business Chicago (WBC) and Chicago business leaders will carry out initiatives in four major areas – Workforce, Local Economic Development, Employee Support and Economic Stimulus through State and Federal legislation -- to help our residents connect with the jobs, the employers and the information they need to become or remain economically secure during these difficult times,” Daley said.
The initiatives are:
Enhanced coordination on notification and “rapid response” to layoffs: To better respond to mass layoffs, the City and Chicago LEADS will coordinate with the business community to remain informed of layoffs and will improve their “rapid response strategy” to increase capacity, resources and coordination in connecting laid-off workers to new jobs or to training programs.
Links to career postings on WBC website: World Business Chicago will post links on its websites to Chicago companies that are hiring. This serve as another resource for job seekers and, because WBC’s website is promoted on a global scale, it will demonstrate to businesses and business leaders outside of Chicago that our region continues to offer good job opportunities despite the global economic situation.
Continue to develop Chicago LEADS: The City will continue to strengthen Chicago LEADS, which is its program to enhance links between Chicago educational institutions, workforce development programs and the business community.
Opportunities for youth: The City, WBC and Chicago business leaders will seek to identify new opportunities for students to gain work experience, including paid and unpaid opportunities, internships and/or job shadowing, during the school year and summer.
Housing assistance to workers: The City, WBC and Chicago business leaders will develop a new outreach network to enable Chicago employers to better connect their employees with information about housing assistance, including foreclosure prevention resources/events, affordable homeownership opportunities and homebuyer incentives to help jumpstart our local real estate market.
Other assistance programs: The City, WBC and Chicago business leaders will explore opportunities for participating in programs that help ensure workers are accessing government assistance programs and benefits for which they may eligible (e.g., RTA/CTA Transit Check, Chicago Supports Workers, etc.).
Local Economic Development:
Support local businesses:
The City, WBC and Chicago business leaders will enhance the City’s current "Made in Chicago" initiative to more aggressively promote locally manufactured products and local service providers by:
Expanded business support network: The City, WBC and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce will work with Chicago business leaders to expand the Chamber's existing programs that offer troubled companies a resource for obtaining advice and support from other local businesses.
New business recruitment: WBC will formalize its “Ambassador Program”, which serves as a business recruitment tool by preparing Chicago business executives to showcase and serve as ambassadors for Chicago in their travels, presentations and discussions abroad. WBC will continue to implement its strategy to identify and successfully recruit to Chicago new business sectors that will help support, enhance and further diversify our local economy.
Economic Stimulus Legislation (State and Federal):
Support for state and federal economic stimulus initiatives: The City, WBC and Chicago business leaders will support stimulus initiatives in the Illinois General Assembly that will accelerate local job creation and support long-term investments in Chicago’s infrastructure and economy, and encourage the federal government to expeditiously send economic stimulus funds directly to cities and states.
"This collaborative action plan can help generate economic activity now. These steps can lessen the impact of the recession on our city's residents and get the economy moving again," Daley said.
"If, as a result of today's meeting we can save one job from being cut or create one new job, help one business stay afloat, protect one homeowner from foreclosure or obtain tax relief for one more family under the Earned Income Tax Credit, then we have succeeded.
Daley thanked all the participants in the session and said a great deal of the progress of the city has been made possible by a business community that is fully engaged in the Mayor's goal of improving the quality of life for every resident of Chicago.
"For the long term, I believe Chicago is one of the global cities that will play a dominant role in the international economy in the coming decades. Even with all the challenges ahead, I remain convinced that we can get through this.
"There is no problem too great for us to solve together if we put our minds to it." The Mayor said.