McDonald’s is not just another Chicago company.
The fast-food giant has around 200,000 employees and 400 restaurants in Chicago alone. Global revenue is over $112 billion. For better or worse, his name is known around the world as an acronym for American culture.
And since moving its global headquarters and its thousands of employees from the western suburb of Oak Brook in 2018, it has had the biggest economic impact on Chicago’s now-thriving West Loop neighborhood and city blocks since Oprah Winfrey opened Harpo Studios before he did. run to the west coast.
So when McDonald’s impressive new CEO Chris Kemczinski has things to say about the current state of Chicago, it deserves attention. And when Kempczinski addressed the Economic Club of Chicago last week, he had a few things to say.
“Can you imagine Chicago without McDonald’s?” Kempczinski asked rhetorically at the beginning of his speech. “I can’t.”
It’s not an unusual opening salvo at the Economic Club, an elite gathering of diverse business and civic leaders, where corporate speakers often touted their value and importance to the city — in the case of McDonald’s headquarters, an alleged $2 economic impact. billion. Kempczinski, a spicy chicken sandwich to accompany Ken Griffin’s Big Mac, did not follow the billionaire’s tone, who outlined the reasons for his impending move from his Citadel headquarters when he supplied red meat to the same club earlier this year. But Kempczinski’s more thoughtful comments quickly evolved around a similar menu.
“Facts haven’t been kind to the city of Chicago lately,” Kempczinski said.
He noted that there were fewer major Chicago-based companies this year than last year, fewer this month than last month, a rejection of the city’s favored narrative that portrayed the phenomenon as a natural ebb and flow.
“I’ve heard that some people don’t like the departure of Boeing, Caterpillar, Citadel,” Kempczinski said sarcastically.
Some people? That would be City Hall’s excuse, which the McDonald’s boss simply demolished saying the exits, we all agree, are not good news for the city. Or the state.
“Wherever in the world I go,” he said, “I ask myself the same question: what’s going on in Chicago? While it may offend our civic pride to hear this, there is a general sense that our city is in crisis.”
We turn around too. This is also not strange for us.
Furthermore, Kempczinski’s comment was reinforced Thursday by a Wall Street Journal report on the Economic Club speech, because Kempczinski, who didn’t need to go there for a typical happy lunch, surely knew he probably did. This wasn’t just a warning about a city in crisis – it was a warning to the public willing to take the risk of making things worse in hopes of making them better.
Meanwhile, some City Club Yaks veterans were wondering when, Griffin aside, was the last time a Chicago CEO spoke publicly about a city in crisis, given the typical imperative of not derailing a city tour with a long memory as a company. . need some kind of favor.
But the McDonald’s boss had a lot more to add.
“I’m telling you in all honesty and openness,” he said, “that others feel our vulnerability.”
Translation: Mayors and governors outside of Illinois are calling and suggesting that the grass at the hamburger and fries giant’s headquarters be greener elsewhere. This raises the question of how many other Chicago companies are getting the same offers. Abundant, no doubt.
Where did Kempczinski see the fundamental problem? Essentially, the loss of the city’s public-private partnership that served it so well in the past.
Unlike Griffin, the McDonald’s CEO at least avoided explicitly criticizing elected officials. “It doesn’t matter why,” he said, setting aside the fact that such a partnership has to start at City Hall, “but we have to get it back.”
Kempczinski then said that there were three main problems plaguing the city: crime, the general business climate, and the mentality. “We play defensively when we have to play offensively,” he said.
If Kempczinski had run for mayor, he likely would have won the votes of every member of Chicago’s business community with a speech that articulated the city’s problems better than any speech by an actual political leader in years. His comments will likely serve as a model for any pro-business mayoral candidate yet to emerge, and could also have served as a model for another Republican candidate for governor of Illinois.
What Kempczinski had to say from the noisy pulpit as he ran such a large Chicago-based company should be taken seriously immediately.
He was undeniably speaking from a certain elitist point of view, but there is no doubt that crime affects every citizen of the city and that McDonald’s knows and operates more Chicago neighborhoods than any other international company. There is no doubt that little can be done to improve all neighborhoods without the public and private sectors working in partnership. And there’s no doubt that Chicago was gripped by a negative mindset and public image that undeniably fell off a cliff.
It’s time for the city to work together, Kempczinski said, and he’s right. The question remains who will lead the effort.
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Source : localtoday.news