Crain’s Chicago: Inside the private group that guides Chicago’s economic development policy
By Lynne Marek, Crain’s Chicago Business
About three dozen companies have moved to Chicago during Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s time in office—including, most recently, packaged-foods giant Con-Agra—a testament both to the mayor’s zealous pursuit of economic development and the money and connections of World Business Chicago, a group run by the city’s corporate chiefs.
But the organization’s close identification with the city’s political power structure has opened it to criticism that it hasn’t done enough to create jobs outside of downtown and that most of its deliberations happen behind closed doors.
Since Emanuel was elected in 2011, the nonprofit’s board, which he chairs, has swelled to 81 members from 24, and its annual budget tripled to $8.1 million last year.
That has allowed the mayor to tap resources outside cash-strapped City Hall for wins such as the city’s new digital manufacturing institute on Goose Island, hosting the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade last December and a venture-capital summit last year that won $40 million in investments for Chicago-based startups.
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