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Chicago Mayor Has Strong Words For McDonald's CEO Claiming 'City Is In Crisis'


Mayor Lori Lightfoot is striking back after McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski condemned the city’s crime problem and cited it as a factor in several recent high-profile corporate departures.

Despite the fast-food giant announcing plans to bring more of its suburban employees downtown, Kempczinski in a speech at the Economic Club of Chicago last week said the city needed to “face facts” in reference to the recent departures of high-profile companies such as Caterpillar, Boeing and Citadel

McDonald's Hamburger University in the West Loop

He said that “while it may wound our civic pride to hear it, there is a general sense out there that our city is in crisis,” adding that “it’s more difficult for [him] to recruit a new employee to McDonald’s to join [the company] in Chicago than it was in the past.”

The mayor wasn't having these criticisms, though. 

At a post-city council press conference Wednesday, the mayor blew smoke right back, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“What would have been helpful is for the McDonald’s CEO to educate himself before he spoke,” Lightfoot said. 

She referenced an open letter by World Business Chicago CEO Michael Fassnacht in defense of the city’s economy. 

"While the departures of Citadel and Boeing are disappointing and not to be ignored, I encourage us to consider the 112 companies who have moved or opened their doors in Chicago over the last 18 months," Fassnacht wrote.

Fassnacht said those 112 company relocations or new entrants created more than 19,000 direct and indirect jobs.

"Additionally, the BLS business establishment data shows there are 7,400 more businesses today in the Chicago metro area than pre-COVID," he wrote.

McDonald’s, which has been headquartered in Chicagoland since its founding, relocated to the West Loop from Oak Brook in 2018.

Kempczinski’s critical comments came on the heels of an announcement the company isn't going anywhere, though, and plans to move its innovation center to the city’s downtown area from Romeoville. The move will shift up to 120 jobs downtown.

Kempczinski, who has been CEO since 2019, called for increased collaboration between the city and business leaders.

“Let us know the plan so we can support it,” he said of the private sector. “It’s going to take partnership.”

His comments echo calls from others in the commercial real estate industry to shake the city’s crime-ridden reputation and are on par with criticisms made earlier this summer when Citadel founder Ken Griffin announced his company would decamp for Florida.

While Chicago is tracking its lowest homicide total this month since 2019 after an uptick in violence over the past two years, random incidents of public crime are still ahead of historical norms on transit and on the streets, including armed robberies and carjackings.