It's Money Well Spent | Letters | Chicago Reader

It's Money Well Spent 

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Dear editor:

In the April 11 cover story "Give Us a Break," about the state's economic development initiatives, the Reader profiled a think tank report that makes incorrect assumptions about the programs and fails to recognize our recent successes.

The city of Chicago and the state of Illinois have teamed up in recent years to attract new business to the state, and especially to the Chicago metropolitan region. Mayor Daley and Governor Ryan formed a strong partnership that aggressively sought out new economic development opportunities. We have continued that productive partnership with Governor Blagojevich.

In the past few years, major corporations such as ATA, Kellogg's, Solo Cup, Ford, and Boeing have announced expansion and relocation projects in Chicago. Countless other small and medium-sized firms have expanded their operations here, with and without financial assistance from the city and state. City-assisted projects have created and retained more than 30,000 jobs in the last two years alone.

While the article uses Site Selection magazine as a source, it failed to note that the publication ranked Illinois and the Chicago metro region as the number one places in the country for corporate relocation and expansion--two years in a row. Total investment in Chicago-area projects last year alone was more than $13 billion ($8 billion more than New York City), according to the magazine.

When the city invests in worthy economic development projects, most assistance benefits are paid out after the company completes the project. The city's investment is tied to the number of quality jobs that are created and retained, which are monitored for a number of years after completion. If the company fails to reach their job-creation goals, the city's investment is protected through "clawbacks," which call for either less assistance or a refund of the money already paid out.

As we invest in private-sector development projects, we help support the diverse local economy that makes the city such a dynamic place to do business. In order to maintain Chicago's quality of life, we need to create and retain quality jobs. We will continue to invest wisely, even in these tough economic times, to help build a stronger Chicago.

Alicia Berg

Commissioner

Chicago Department of Planning and Development

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