Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel detailed his second-term economic development agenda during an invitation-only speech on Wednesday.
Emanuel talked about boosting investments in Chicago's neighborhoods, noting that many are still having a hard time attracting jobs.
"To make these neighborhoods more attractive for growth and investment, we will develop a package of incentives such as targeted tax reductions and a concierge service for both zoning, permitting and licensing," the mayor said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Also, the mayor said he wants to expand small business loan and business infrastructure improvement initiatives targeting mostly South and West Side neighborhoods, among other efforts.
The mayor made his speech at Method's manufacturing plant in Pullman. The plant, paid for in part with tax increment financing (TIF) funds, is slated to open in April.
Method makes biodegradable and natural cleaning products.
"Method is a symbol of what's happening in neighborhoods across Chicago," Emanuel said at the campaign event. "Its arrival here in Pullman didn't happen by accident. It's part of a plan that we developed shortly after taking office."
Emanuel focused much of his speech on the city's job gains and other successes since he's been in office and played up his efforts to reduce food deserts in Chicago, promising to continue work on expanding access to grocery stores.
Chicago mayoral candidate Jesus "Chuy" Garcia said the economic policies under the Emanuel administration have fallen short for many working families. Garia, a Cook County commissioner, issued the following statement in response to the roll out of Emanuel's economic agenda:
It's cynical of Mayor Emanuel -- six weeks before an election -- to downplay the failed policies he has pursued for the last four years in favor of shallow promises that look good on paper but fail to meet the real challenges that Chicago's residents face.
One-time budget gimmicks, selling off our public assets, kicking the can down the road on budget and revenue priorities -- this is the real legacy of the Emanuel administration, under whose watch total long-term debt obligations grew by 48 percent. This is not sustainable, and it must end. We simply cannot afford another four years of talk and no real action to address the economic needs of Chicago's neighborhoods.
The reality is that the current administration has not delivered for huge numbers of our working families. Under this administration, unemployment outside of the central city remains unacceptably high, and income inequality persists.
The solution to Chicago's budget crisis is sustained growth and economic development, progressive revenue generation and consistent fiscal responsibility -- built on responsible budgeting and borrowing. When we fail to pay our bills today, we create more costly payments later. My administration will invest in our neighborhoods, our people, our schools, our transportation system, and our public safety strategies to bring economic development to all of Chicago's neighborhoods.
Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd), another top Emanuel challenger in the mayor's race, also issued a statement slamming the incumbent's past economic policies:
While Mayor Emanuel might say he's trying to make Chicago work for all our communities, his actions in the past four years have created a divided Chicago - one for the rich, and one for everyone else.
Rahm's track record of privatizing city resources, attempting to pass off our pension problem, and failing our neighborhoods while turning the loop in to a playground for the privileged shows he's more interested in making Chicago a world class city for campaign donors.
We need good paying jobs and economic development in our communities, strong neighborhood schools, a budget that doesn't shortchange our civil servants and streets that are safe for all our citizens. We can't afford another four years that will inevitably ignore the voice of the people in our neighborhoods.