The CEO of McDonald’s, Chris Kempczinski does not have good things to say about the street crime in Chicago. He’s not lovin’ it one bit. They sunk $250 million into their brand new Windy City headquarters in 2018, leaving the suburbs of Oak Brook behind forever. The stress of that move was only four years ago so they aren’t in a hurry to do it again. Besides that, they’re currently building an expensive new innovation center in the West Loop section. Kempczinski promises he’s not moving the HQ, yet, but may have to close all their burger shops in the city.
Chicago unsafe for workers
McDonalds can’t find workers willing to brave the crime in Chicago, even for an executive position with one of the world’s largest corporations. The problem stretches from the lowest burger flipper to junior slots in the C-suite.
CEO Chris Kempczinski addressed fellow entrepreneurs at the Economic Club on Wednesday, September 21. The theme of his speech was concern “over the Windy City’s dramatic increase in violent crime and its effect on quality of life.”
Kempczinski lives there, so knows the problem first hand. “Everywhere I go, I’m confronted by the same question. ‘What’s going on in Chicago?‘ There is a general sense out there that our city is in crisis.” At corporate headquarters, “business employees are scared to return to the office because of the uptick in violent crime.”
McDonald’s is keeping its Chicago headquarters despite the crime rate https://t.co/qM6edarqar
— The Real Deal Chicago (@trdchicago) September 15, 2022
They’re “having trouble hiring new employees because of worries over their potential quality of life.” They can’t even get anyone to transfer. “The truth is, it’s more difficult today for me to convince a promising McDonald’s executive to relocate to Chicago from one of our other offices than it was just a few years ago.”
If they could easily pull up stakes and move to somewhere safer, they would. In Chicago, “robberies are up 18 percent, burglaries up 28 percent, thefts up 65 percent, and car theft is up 66 percent.”
That’s just for starters. “Murder’s are at 479 for the year, currently 15 percent fewer than last year but significantly higher, at 33 percent, to 2019.” They can’t get cashiers or cooks either.
Afraid of public transit
Many of the potential workers were especially worried about riding public transportation. Kempczinski notes how that directly translates into staff shortages. “It’s more difficult for me to recruit a new employee to McDonald’s, to join us in Chicago, than it was in the past.”
They’re closing restaurants because of it. They’re stuck with HQ for a while but “have closed locations due to worries of violence.” They had to do the same in other liberal cities. He noted that in March they “closed a flagship location in Seattle Out of concern for the safety of our employees and customers.”
If they did pull out, the tax base would take a huge hit. Reports note “the company generated some $2 billion for the economy of Cook County, the second-most populous county in the US, which encompasses Chicago as well as Evanston, Elgin and Arlington Heights.”
They seem to be the only major corporation to be sticking around. “Three booming businesses, Citadel, Caterpillar, and Boeing, have all moved their headquarters out of Chicago as crime soars.”
Since he can’t leave just yet, Kempczinski “encouraged public officials to address the crime.” He might not be leaving but it’s certain that other companies will. “We see every single day in our restaurants what’s happening at society at large. It’s not going to be something that McDonald’s can solve on its own. We need to be able to do it with the public sector as well.”
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