Senator Brady said his legislation addresses situations such as the attempt in 2006 by the Chicago City Council to enact a “big box store” ordinance that would set wage and benefit standards for large retail stores such as Wal-Mart, Lowe’s and Target. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley vetoed that ordinance, but the threat of another effort to pass a “big box store” ordinance has squelched economic development opportunities by mega-retailers within the city’s corporate boundaries.
Jerry Roper, President and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, said his organization supports Brady’s 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.”
Senator Brady said municipalities should be supporting economic development opportunities, especially during a recession. Brady said 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,” Senator Brady said. “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.”