Beer—but at what price? | Bleader

Monday, August 3, 2009

Beer—but at what price?

Posted By on 08.03.09 at 07:36 PM

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Several of the country's biggest banks have provoked another round of outrage by paying top executives millions in bonuses even as they're getting federal aid to keep their doors open.

In Chicago things don't seem so dramatic and dire. Companies receiving taxpayer handouts here are favorites of the mayor and the City Council, and they simply use the money to help themselves make more of it.

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Here's one example. A few weeks ago beermaker MillerCoors opened its new headquarters in Chicago. “Especially in these difficult economic times, this kind of an opening sends an important message to all Chicago residents that our city is a vital place and that we are working hard to take the steps necessary to keep our economy moving,” Mayor Daley said at the time.

But the economy is already moving for MillerCoors. From today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

"MillerCoors LLC reported Monday a 16.4% increase in its second-quarter net income, the result of cost cutting and revenue growth at the Chicago-based brewer.

"MillerCoors, formed in July 2008 by the merger of Miller Brewing Co. and Coors Brewing Co., reported net income of $325.3 million for the three months ended June 30, up from $279.4 million, on a pro-forma basis, from a year earlier."

In additional to cutting costs, the company has saved a few bucks by collecting $24 million in subsidies from the city and state governments to rehab its new office space at 250 S. Wacker, as Ben Joravsky reported last March.

In return, MillerCoors is eventually supposed to employ 325 people here, though they're mostly transfers from Denver or Milwaukee and not new jobs, and the city doesn't have a great record of monitoring these kinds of agreements.

The city says the addition of MillerCoors also boosts Chicago's reputation as a world-class business city. Maybe so, but I'm far more certain this deal means it costs local taxpayers a little more than advertised for a sixer of High Life.

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