Mayor Lori Lightfoot responded Wednesday to McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski after he raised concerns about crime in Chicago, and she defended the city’s economic prospects.
Lightfoot was asked about comments from last week by Kempczinski to the Economic Club of Chicago, where he referenced the recent departures of high-profile companies like Caterpillar, Boeing and Citadel from the area and said the city needed to “face facts.” He said that “while it may hurt our civic pride to hear it, there is a general sense that our city is in crisis” and noted that there are “fewer large companies headquartered in Chicago this year than there were last year”.
In his usual post-City Council news conference on Wednesday, Lightfoot used one of his favorite phrases to rebut the criticism.
“What would have been helpful for the CEO of McDonald’s is to educate himself before he speaks,” Lightfoot said.
The mayor also referred to an open letter from Michael Fassnacht, her handpicked director of World Business Chicago, which said “it lays out in exact detail all the good news, economic news, about what’s happening in our city, so I I’m going to focus on those things and not on the comments of the CEO of McDonald’s”.
“While the Citadel and Boeing departures are disappointing and should not be ignored, encourage us to consider the 112 companies that have moved or opened in Chicago over the last 18 months. These 112 company relocations or new market entries created more than 19,000 direct and indirect jobs. Additionally, BLS business establishment data shows that there are 7,400 more businesses today in the Chicago metro area than before COVID,” Fassnacht wrote.
A McDonald’s spokesman declined to comment on Lightfoot’s comments Wednesday.
McDonald’s was based in Oak Brook from the early 1970s until 2018, when it moved 2,000 employees to a new $250 million headquarters in the West Loop.
Despite Kempczinski’s concerns, the fast-food giant announced it plans to move up to 120 more jobs to its headquarters from a Romeoville location.
Since Kempczinski made his comments, the company has tried to reiterate its commitment to Chicago, including by running an ad in the Tribune.
Tribune’s Robert Channick contributed.