In his address to the Economic Club of Chicago on September 14, McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski indicated that the company will remain headquartered in Chicago despite it being a city "in crisis."
Kempczinski explained how skyrocketing crime, not new to many neighborhoods but now "seeping into every corner of our city," had adversely effected not just residents' safety and job prospects, but the company's own ability to recruit and retain talent. "It's more difficult today for me to convince a promising McDonald's executive to relocate to Chicago from one of our offices than it was just a few years ago."
Employees have expressed safety concerns and a general "reluctance" about taking public transit downtown amidst a surge in violent crimes and robberies. A lack of confidence in the ability to get to work unscathed is not the only thing that's changed in recent years.
"Every single person in this room has seen the corrosive effect that crime can have on the city, its psyche and its citizens," said Kempczinski. Businesses are not merely hurt but chased away. "The fact is that there are fewer large companies headquartered in Chicago this year than last year."
The executive mentioned the departures from Chicago of Boeing to Virginia, Caterpillar to Texas, and Citadel to Florida. Although each of these large businesses take with them thousands of jobs along with tax revenue, their leaving may be matched in significance by the flood of smaller businesses similarly leaving the city.
Ken Griffin, the billionaire who runs the hedge-fund firm Citadel, said this summer of his decision to leave Chicago: "If people aren't safe here, they're not going to live here." He suggested that some of his colleagues had been mugged at gunpoint and that one had been stabbed on his way to work.
Gary Rabine, founder of the Rabine Group, told Fox News Digital that "We would do thousands of jobs a year in the city, but as we got robbed more ... it got expensive and it got dangerous."
In addition to exposing workers to risk, increasing crime meant more expensive insurance and security for Rabine. These costs were passed onto customers and, in the case of utility services, taxpayers. Rabine assigned blame both to Democrat Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who he regards as "a lousy leader," and to Illinois Gov. Jay Pritzker (D).
Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin (R) suggested that Pritzker "simply refuses to acknowledge what everyone sees, which is that his high-tax, pro-criminal administration is literally driving jobs and businesses out of state."
Although committed to doubling down on Chicago, the McDonald's executive admitted it "has become increasingly difficult to operate a global business out of the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois."
Extra to the violent crime that deters corporate talent from joining his team in Chicago, Kempczinski suggested that McDonald's is "seeing homelessness issues" in the 400 restaurants it has in and about Chicago. "We're having drug overdoses that are happening in our restaurants."
Noting his travels across America and the world, Kempczinski stated, "Everywhere I go, I am confronted by the same question these days: what's going on in Chicago?"
According to the Chicago Police Department, crime so far this year is up 38% over the same period last year. As of September 11, Chicago has already seen:
- 479 murders;
- 1,437 sexual assaults;
- 740 robberies;
- 4,158 aggravated battery arrests;
- 5,150 burglaries;
- 13,395 thefts;
- 10,992 motor vehicle thefts; and
- 2,011 shooting incidents.
Chicago has a ranking of 10 on the Neighborhood Scout crime index (100 being the safest). For two points of comparison, Democrat Mayor London Breed's San Francisco scores 4 on the index whereas Republican Mayor Bob Dyer's Virginia Beach has a score of 38.
The crisis in Chicago may soon worsen. On January 1, 2023, the "SAFE-T Act" will take effect, eliminating cash bail. Criminals charged with misdemeanors or non-violent crimes will be released after their initial detainment. This Democrat-passed law has been likened to the horror film series "The Purge," where criminal activity is legalized for a set duration.