Creating a city government which is an ally and advocate for the people who create neighborhood jobs by:
ACCESS TO CAPITAL
My Administration will lead a Midwest-wide effort to increase the venture capital available for technology-driven investments. Chicago is blessed with some of the best universities in the world, but we are lagging behind other cities and regions in turning that intellectual capital into high-growth technology companies. I will convene a Global Great Lakes Forum of mayors, county board chairs, pension fund managers, endowment fund managers, venture capital support builders and institutional investors to convene quarterly to share success stories and develop benchmarks and strategies to increase the venture capital investment in Chicago and Midwest high-growth technology companies. Our first order of business will be a proposal to develop a $2 billion fund with contributions from public and private pension funds throughout the region to focus on B and C round investments for high-growth firms. Our pension funds and our local endowments already invest in venture capital firms – they just do it on the coasts. We can change that.
I will also draft a Chicago Community Reinvestment Ordinance that will require all financial institutions doing business with the city, pension funds or sister agencies to lend to city residents and entrepreneurs at market rates.
INVESTING IN INFRASTRUCTURE
Our infrastructure is the crucial foundation for our economic growth. Investing in the CTA, Metra and a new high speed rail network to bring the entire Midwest into one economic unit with Chicago as the hub is absolutely necessary. I’ll pursue the most innovative methods of private funding on the globe to maintain and expand our transit network. I’ll also get the job done on modernizing O’Hare, especially with a new high-speed rail connection to the Loop, in partnership with the airlines. I’ll follow New York City’s example to roll out bus rapid transit lines, to replace many of the express buses that have been cut from the CTA, to make riding the bus faster than driving. We need to double transit ridership in Chicago to keep our city working. Our transportation network is second-rate today. That’s unacceptable. Good transportation infrastructure lowers the costs of doing business, improving the bottom line.
STREAMLINING THE BUREAUCRACY
The path to prosperity is not always a job. It is often starting a business. Too often, the City is in the way of small business growth instead of a partner. Entrepreneurs are faced with a bewildering maze of permits, licenses and fees – and then they are faced with the dreaded inspectors, two dozen of whom have been convicted of bribery in the last few years. I will create one Department – the Department of Small Business Growth – that will be responsible for the final determination of all licenses, permits and fees from all city agencies. Instead of getting five different answers from five different departments over what permit or license of fee a new business has to acquire, entrepreneurs will get one binding answer, ending the retroactive citations with fees from an inspector going back years. I will celebrate the good, eliminate the incompetent and bullies, and recapture the waste. Under my Administration, we won’t be nickel-and-diming our businesses to death.
Lots of Chicagoans start their business at home. Outdated city ordinances often make home-based businesses illegal with ridiculous restrictions like a prohibition on making greeting cards or jewelry for wholesale distribution. I’ll repeal these anti-business restrictions and dozens more like them, since small businesses are responsible for most of the country’s job growth.
I’ll also make it legal for small-scale entrepreneurs to sell flowers or food on the streets. We need a balanced public space with street vendors to bring a sense of vitality and life back to our corners, especially those hardest-hit by the recession. Street vendors also improve public safety. It was a street vendor in New York City who alerted the police to the car bomb, averting a potentially devastating terrorist attack. They can do the same to reduce street crime.
COLLABORATING TO DEVELOP ALL OF OUR NEIGHBORHOODS
While Downtown Chicago has done relatively well, most of the neighborhoods are hurting. I’ll create neighborhood-specific economic development plans in partnership with the local chambers of commerce, delegate agencies, elected officials, community leaders and most importantly the local residents and businesses. These neighborhood-specific economic development plans will inventory existing businesses, assets and opportunities to lay out a path to prosperity. The 200-some delegate agencies that have been leading the charge for local prosperity will be at the center of shaping these plans. These neighborhood-specific plans will guide infrastructure and programmatic investments to ensure that all agencies and departments are on the same page.
We have tremendous assets and world-leading companies in Chicago, but we have to work collaboratively to strengthen our entire city and region. I will work to forge a collaborative culture among our private sector players, universities, pension funds and investors to support the companies that are creating jobs and generating wealth. I’ll regularly convene the leadership of the business schools of Northwestern, University of Chicago, UIC, DePaul and Loyola to forge an ongoing plan to leverage our existing assets to make Chicago one of the world’s business capitals for the next generation. And using millions of TIF dollars to lure more corporate headquarters into the Loop is not the way to improve the neighborhoods or build the high-growth, sustainable economic future for the city. It’s an old model.