Municipalities should be supporting economic development opportunities, especially during a recession. Each of the mega-stores could employ at least 400 workers, which could mean 4,000 more retail jobs in Chicago, in addition to thousands of union construction jobs to build the stores.
Not one new job has been created by a “big box store” ordinance. But the City has laid off hundreds of workers from good-paying union jobs because of its revenue shortfalls. We should be welcoming businesses that want to invest in our communities, not throwing up roadblocks, especially in economically depressed areas and especially for a reported 500,000 Chicago residents who are severely underserved by retail food businesses.
CHICAGOLAND CHAMBER VOICES ITS SUPPORT FOR SENATOR BRADY’S LEGISLATION
Jerry Roper, President and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, said his organization supports my legislation.
“We cannot allow our economic development strategy to be hijacked by a handful of big box store opponents,” Roper said. “The threat of a ‘big box store’ ordinance is costing Chicago millions in annual sales tax revenues. The one Wal-Mart store in the city generates $5 million a year in sales tax revenue, and Chicago could easily support 10 more super-stores like it. That could mean close to $50 million in additional sales tax revenue.”
COMMITTEE PASSES GAMING EXPANSION
The Senate Gaming Committee advanced legislation this week to expand gaming in Illinois.
Senate Bill 744 would authorize a 4,000-position Chicago casino. The license would cost $225 million, and the state could see returns of $50 million to $100 million a year from that casino, depending on the amount of revenue it generates. Seventy percent of the revenues will be directed to the Gaming Endowment Fund, for roads, bridges transit, schools, parks and cultural facilities. The remaining 30 percent will be directed to the City of Chicago for any purpose.
The proposed gaming measure would also allow for an additional three riverboat licenses – one in Park City and one in Rockford. The third riverboat license location is undetermined, and the bill specifies that for another $5 million the gaming facility could be land-based.
Senate Bill 744 would allow for an additional 3,500 positions at horse tracks, and makes changes to the state’s gaming and racing boards. It is estimated that under this plan the state could eventually realize approximately $636 million more in taxes than it received in 2008, though not all in Fiscal Year 2010. Illinois could also benefit from $355 million in one-time revenues.
COALITION SEEKS ASSISTANCE FOR STRUGGLING MANUFACTURERS
A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers this week urged the General Assembly to pass critical assistance for struggling manufacturers. Republican and Democrat legislators from across Illinois called for the restoration of $2 million for the Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center, a non-profit organization that helps manufacturers contain costs, improve efficiency and create quality jobs.
The lawmakers said that many manufacturers are responding to the nation’s current economic challenges by reinvesting in their employees, processing and products in order to maintain a competitive advantage. They noted that supporting the organization that helps manufacturers become more competitive is a great way to improve the conditions facing the state’s business community.
IMEC had been funded every year by the General Assembly since 1996, until last year when ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich vetoed $2 million in funding. That was a mistake, because companies assisted by IMEC achieve productivity gains four times greater than firms that don’t receive similar help. Independent studies have also shown that every dollar the state invests in IMEC generates an additional four dollars in tax revenue for Illinois.