Letter to Crain’s Chicago Business Editor: The West Loop Can Have McDonald’s

Written by: John A. Carpenter, President & CEO | Choose DuPage 


Sure, Ronald McDonald is packing up and leaving Oak Brook, but we need to consider the McDonald’s move in context. The McDonald’s corporation is attempting to recuperate after an unshakable period of lethargy. As part of CEO Steve Easterbrook’s strategy in which he must slim down the burger chain by $500 million, he plans to outsource jobs to India with cheaper labor costs, terminate a regional office in Ohio, and has laid off hundreds of workers—400-plus last year alone.


The migration of the Golden Arches from its serene and economically secure campus in Oak Brook to Chicago should be seen as a justification to minimize square footage and lessen payroll by reducing the number of employees. The city of Chicago is fraught with soaring taxes, enormous pension debt and a business climate that’s suffocating job creators. DuPage County has so much more to offer. Our low unemployment, skilled and educated workforce, and growing business sector will remain long after the city of Chicago uses up its source of corporate Band-Aids. Just this year, Chicago’s credit rating was further diminished to basically “junk” status, the lowest grade among all major U.S. cities, except formerly bankrupt Detroit. DuPage County boasts a AAA bond rating due to its strong economy, fiscal management and healthy budgetary performance. In June, DuPage County dropped its sales tax by a quarter-cent, putting $36 million back into taxpayer pockets. Led by Chairman Dan Cronin, our county board ensures DuPage continues to be the economic development model for the Chicago region. A recent DuPage County audit shows economic activity throughout the community is booming as local commerce and business development flourish. DuPage maintains the lowest unemployment rate in the Chicago region, as it has for years. Our businesses are expanding and vacancy rates continue to decline. In 2015 alone, 3,792 jobs were created or retained and 105 new projects took shape in DuPage County with a total investment of $571 million. Similar numbers hold true for the past four years. The DuPage County education system provides both a skilled workforce for our employers and a solid base for our children. Over 92 percent of residents graduate high school, with half of them earning a bachelor’s degree or higher—the highest success rate in the state, and much higher than the national average of 32.5 percent. McDonald’s unfortunate move aside, DuPage County is alive and well. In fact, we are excited for the opportunity to soon be seeking new residents for an impressive Oak Brook complex with a super-sized opportunity inside DuPage County.