Letter to the Editor: Crain’s Chicago Business

Dear Editor: This letter is in response to Joe Cahill’s September 26 column, Why McDonald’s and Walgreens need to move downtown. In the article, Mr. Cahill attempts to make the argument that McDonald’s and Walgreens would be well served by relocating to downtown Chicago. As President & CEO of Choose DuPage, DuPage County’s economic development alliance, we respectfully disagree. While some companies may benefit from relocating, we do not think it would be for the reasons offered in Mr. Cahill’s article. To suggest that hugely successful “consumer-focused companies” like McDonald’s or Walgreens would rely on anecdotal evidence to make key strategic business decisions is naïve and misplaced. Sophisticated, successful global companies make important decisions based on hard, data- driven evidence and not by a senior executive witnessing a line outside a competitor’s store. The reasons for any business to move from the suburbs to Chicago are numerous, and often times unique to the particular company. In the last year, DuPage County had 118 new projects (see footnote for project criteria), which is a 15% increase year over year. There are a variety of reasons these businesses have chosen to locate in DuPage County, some of which are:
  • Our flexible, business-friendly environment understands that businesses only invest in locations that make economic sense. DuPage County offers low commercial property taxes, and an accountable, transparent government. In 2016, DuPage County will reduce sales tax by 0.25%. Formerly this tax went to the DuPage County Water Commission, which in 2014 paid off its liabilities 18 months ahead of schedule, saving taxpayers more than $10 million in interest.
  • Our high-quality of life provides employees and their families with schools that are consistently ranked among the best in the nation, a wealth of opportunities to experience arts and culture, and the open spaces and tree-lined streets that characterize the County’s landscape. This, combined with an affordable cost of living makes DuPage County a desirable location for companies and employees alike.
  • As one of the fastest growing regions in Midwest, DuPage County has nearly 1 million residents, and 350,000 households. This growing, diverse population offers a labor force of 515,781. And with 92% of residents having a high school degree or higher, and 46% having a Bachelor’s degree or higher, DuPage’s highly educated workforce has attracted businesses from all industries.
We are confident McDonald’s and Walgreens will make decisions regarding their businesses based on that which is best for their shareholders, employees and customers. Both companies have contributed to the economic vitality and quality of life of their respective communities and the region. We remain hopeful that those contributions will continue. Sincerely, John A. Carpenter President & CEO, Choose DuPage Phone: (630) 955-2089 jcarpenter@choosedupage.com Footnote: Project criteria – projects are defined as a new or expanding company that meets meets at least one of the following criteria: $1M investment, net gain of 20,000 sq ft, or net gain of 50 jobs