Destroyed is the street nickname for Detroit. The Chicago Tribune opines Chicago may be on the road to becoming the next
Destroyed Detroit. As he did with fraud, waste, mismanagement, and corruption, Mayor Daley did a masterful job disguising the true state of Chicago. He beautified the city- putting lace, perfume, and lipstick on the pig; calling it a cover girl model.
While many talk about the city’s financial problems, crime, gangs, and other social ills, hidden under a rock is the real problem- the exodus of major corporations, businesses, and the dearth of new businesses entering Chicago. This results in an exodus of private sector jobs and trades. Worse, businesses will not expand here- they just leave and go someplace else.
The blame falls directly on the mayor. The cost of starting a business in Chicago is high. If the business is any type of manufacturing or industrial entity, the costs escalate. The cost of expanding a business is prohibitive too. These are soft costs, paper costs; money spent on lawyers, consultants, expediters, architects, and other experts in vain attempts to comply with the labyrinthine maze of city codes, regulations, zoning, permits, licensing, inspections, Aldermanic privileges, other municipal obstacles and roadblocks. Then of course, you have the 10% fraud and corruption tax, which must be built in to every project. These are on top of all the federal and state regulatory obstacles.
For example, a simple zoning variance for to expand a bar/restaurant can cost upwards of 40 thousand dollars. Imagine the cost for a major project or enterprise. For many in the commercial and business world, the sad tale of Wal-Mart may have been the last straw. It took a six year battle and who knows how much money to get approval to build a store. Six years to get a yes or no! The reasons for the delay had nothing to do with the merit of the project. Wal-Mart did not pony up enough graft and the unions did. This battle demonstrates Chicago is no longer a business friendly town. It is a graft friendly town. Mike Royko was right. The city motto should be changed to “Where’s mine?“
Add in the tax structure and the cost of doing business in Chicago, and you have perfect plan for disaster. Detroit II. It is not worth the soft costs to open or expand any major business venture or entity within the corporate limits of the city of Chicago. Especially manufacturing or light manufacturing.
If you need further proof, drive through the South Side or West Side. Look at all the vacant commercial, manufacturing, and industrial land. It is vacant for a reason. Down zoning and the near impossibility to get it rezoned or obtain zoning variances. Why would any business locate here?
The mayor has done nothing to improve the situation. The status quo was just fine with him. Zoning and other codes were rewritten on his watch, but the practices are still the same archaic methods, involving bureaucratic red tape, bureaucratic and aldermanic corruption, and hoops to small for any entity to get through. Daley has let well enough alone. Businesses and their resulting jobs suffered for it.
Chicago, historically, has been the hub of the nation. Now it may be the hub of the rust belt. Its broken spokes stretching across the prairie.