I’m not for higher taxes in Illinois, or Chicago. I believe it isn’t in the best interest of our business community, our schools or residents. However, high taxes won’t kill a state, as shown by New York and California; but, then again, California has the weather and New York is New York, so it’s not exactly apples to apples with Illinois.
The bigger issue facing business in Chicago is the violence. Enough is enough.
Shootouts on expressways. Restaurant districts having shootings. Car jackings at an all-time high. What’s next, the Batman villain Bane to take over Soldier Field during a Bears game?
There is a wealth gap in the country. Combine that with the ability of white-collar workers to have more remote work options, and you have a challenge facing our city that our mayor and politicians don’t understand. People were leaving before COVID and before the violence. Take away more white-collar workers and more businesses, and we will be left looking like Detroit in the 1970s to 2000s. Is that really what we want?
Conferences are already going to Nashville, Dallas and Austin, rather than Chicago, due to the cost. And rightfully so.
We have great colleges in Chicago: the University of Chicago, Northwestern, DePaul, Loyola and UIC. These students and the families that send them here need to feel safe. If we start losing our young adults and our wealthy adults, we will become a shell of a city. What once was considered a potential home for the Olympics, what would love to host a Super Bowl or Final Four, will become a city that people wouldn’t feel safe visiting.
Over the past 23 years, I’ve built my business in Chicago. I have always felt that Chicago was the best city in America. Colleges, cost of living, businesses, quality of people, culture and museums, and sports teams. However, it’s changing.
Maybe the mayor is in denial. “There’s nothing anyone can do,” or “I’m doing what I can; it takes time.” But that’s not the truth.
The mayor doesn’t need to be in San Francisco recruiting companies. She needs to be walking the streets assuring our residents it will be OK. The mayor needs to come out publicly and praise the police, and get them back believing that our leaders support those who risk their lives to serve and protect. Once our residents, good citizens and criminals alike, know our leaders have the police officers’ backs, then we will start to stem the tide.
Hire more police, and train them on the emotional part of the job and hold them accountable, but let’s get more and, most important, let’s support them.
Make our residents feel safe. Make our kids feel safe. Make criminals know they can’t destroy our city, because Chicago is the best city in the country. But if you don’t tend to the garden, weeds will overtake even the prettiest of flowers.
Tom Gimbel is founder and CEO of LaSalle Network in Chicago.