Here’s my economic quiz for the day: Which city led the country in job growth in the past year and experienced the largest drop in unemployment at 14.8 percent? Chicago.
Which city saw the greatest rise in home prices, 4.5 percent, in the latest Case-Shiller survey of 20 major metro areas? Chicago.
Which city is building 1,400 new hotel rooms and seeing the second biggest jump in hotel construction nationwide? Chicago.
Where did hotel occupancy rise to 90 percent in June and tourist spending set records by rising to
$12 billion in the past year? Chicago.
Where is demand for retail, manufacturing and shipping space higher than at any time in the past four years? Chicago.
Which downtown is seeing its first office tower built on spec since 1998 and seeing building sales rise to the highest level in five years? Chicago.
Where have seven companies moved their corporate headquarters and 33 companies expanded, creating 20,000 more jobs, all in a little over a year? You probably know by now: Chicago.
Those are just a few snapshots of Chicago’s recent success. Taken together, they show our economy creating jobs in nearly every sector and opportunity for Chicagoans of all skill sets. We are not riding a national trend; our strategy for economic growth is creating our own trend. Because we are not resting on our strengths but investing in them, companies have the confidence to invest and grow in Chicago.
Motorola Mobility’s decision to move its corporate headquarters and 3,000 jobs to the Merchandise Mart was one of the strongest votes of confidence in our future. The company’s choice of Chicago over Sunnyvale, Calif., or Seoul, South Korea, is a game changer for our economy. While Chicago is a leader in transportation and logistics, professional services, business consulting and the financial sector, Motorola Mobility’s move creates another pillar for growth and job creation. As the home to a global leader in the smartphone industry, Chicago is now a leading technological center. Our economy has never had greater diversity or depth.
We also know that wherever tech giants make their home, start-ups follow. Motorola Mobility will tap small companies with big ideas to develop new software and products. For code writers and designers looking to create the next blockbuster program, Chicago is a top destination. The second city is fast becoming a start-up city.
That hasn’t always been the case. For too long, we saw innovators get their start in Chicago only to make their names in Silicon Valley. While Paypal’s founders left Illinois a decade ago for California, Braintree, a company described as Paypal 2.0, is now adding 150 jobs in their West Loop headquarters. Companies that start in Chicago are staying in Chicago. They are confident about Chicago’s future and committed to our success.
It’s not just at places like Braintree, but in the building trades, construction and on the CTA, there are more opportunities. On the same day Braintree announced its expansion, the CTA hosted the first of three job fairs to recruit 400 new bus drivers. The positions are a small sample of the 30,000 jobs we are creating in the next three years as we modernize our roads, runways and rails. For welders, pipe fitters, mechanical engineers, laborers and others, in every community and corner of our city, Chicagoans have a better shot at good jobs and a middle-class standard of living.
The strategy behind our success is clear: We are investing in our infrastructure and in the skills and education of our workforce. At the same time, we are putting our fiscal house in order. We are investing in what works and what makes Chicago more economically competitive while reforming what doesn’t. By making the tough choices, we have cut our projected budget deficit in half for 2013. In the next budget, we will finish what we started and eliminate the structural deficit.
When we see Chicago leading the country in job growth and the growing confidence of companies in Chicago across the economic spectrum, we can have greater confidence in the choices we are making as a city. We are not yet where we need to be, but we know we are on our way and pointed in the right direction. Chicago is a city on the move.