Mayor Emanuel Lays Out Economic Plan, Achievements

(CBS) — Jobs and economic development took center stage in the race for mayor Wednesday.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, in a major campaign speech, talked about what he’s already done and what he plans to do if re-elected.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports Emanuel’s message was: lots done, lots more to do. His opponents agree wholeheartedly with the second part of that, though definitely not the first.

Wednesday’s speech was aimed at inner city voters who swept him to victory four years ago, but may not be so sure this time. The mayor was greeted enthusiastically by workers at the newly-opened green technology cleaning products plant, featuring a wind turbine, solar panels, and a 75,000 square foot green house on its roof.

“It’s the first manufacturing company in the last 30 years right here in the Pullman community,” said 9th Ward Alderman Anthony Beale.

It’s the first Method Soap Products plant in the United States, a high tech facility whose workers wear shirts with slogans that if worn by the mayor, might have been good for a laugh or two. But Mayor Emanuel was all serious Wednesday, coming to Pullman to defend his economic development record and charges that under his leadership, the Loop is thriving while everywhere else suffers.

“More than four billion dollars in public and private investment to seven designated neighborhoods across the city,” Emanuel said. “In our next four years we wil take the Chicago Neighborhood Now model and double it’s size.”

Earlier Wednesday, the mayor snagged another corporate headquarters of the cyber security firm Prescient. The latest of more than 30 companies he’s lured to Chicago over the past four years, promising thousands of new jobs. Not all are here yet, due to construction and others delays. But companies like Method opening up the mayor says have contributed to a net gain of 73,000 new jobs during his first term.

“Have companies closed? Yes, but more companies have opened and more jobs added than any other big city in America,” Emanuel said.

While the mayor’s 73,000 net jobs figure that’s confirmed by state job figures, we weren’t able to prove that all the jobs promised by the 30 corporation he lured to Chicago actually came when they were supposed to. The mayor also cited shrinking food deserts, top-rated libraries and parks and cutting edge technology research as putting Chicagoans and all their neighborhoods on the right track to success.

Earlier in the day, Emanuel’s opponents took shots at his economic record.

“A lot of the issues down in Pullman were started way before he came into office. The Wal-Mart was passed under [former mayor Richard M.] Daley,” Fioretti said.

Rival challenger and businessman Willie Wilson said most of the development under Emanuel has been in and around downtown.

“A lot of the dollars is spent with his friends over and over again; people who he’s put into office, or people who have spent money on his campaign,” Wilson said.

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