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Chico unveils his jobs plan

Mayoral candidate Gery Chico unveils his jobs plan World Wide Produce Tuesday. | John H. White~Sun-Times

Mayoral candidate Gery Chico unveils his jobs plan at World Wide Produce on Tuesday. | John H. White~Sun-Times

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Updated: May 18, 2011 1:56PM

Calling City Hall the “number one impediment to job growth,” mayoral challenger Gery Chico unveiled a comprehensive plan Tuesday to “break down the bureaucratic wall” and attract the businesses and jobs Chicago so desperately needs.

The cornerstone of Chico’s plan is the appointment of a deputy mayor for business development and job creation who would preside over a “jobs cabinet” comprised of business, labor and academic leaders.

The deputy mayor would be singularly responsible for developing short- and long-term strategies for creating jobs, restructuring city departments and reducing taxes, fees and paperwork that serve as a disincentive to business. It would start with repeal of the $4-a-month-per-employee head tax despised by business.

“I’ve heard from way too many businesses that have tried to locate or expand in the city. All they tell you is their frustrating stories of having to deal with the maze of costly rules and regulations. In many cases, they simply don’t go forward. That means we lose jobs,” said Chico, whose first city job was in the Department of Planning.

“I call for the creation of a position of deputy mayor. I want that person tied at my hip to work on job creation 24 hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. That’s the kind of priority it’s going to hold for my administration. . . . We will measure ourselves in terms of companies recruited and jobs created.”

If he’s elected mayor, Chico said he would create an “entrepreneurial center” based at the Chicago City Colleges he once chaired to provide training and start-up funds for small businesses.

He would also create a “universal work-study program” that would give Chicago Public high school students a chance to do what he did while attending Kelly H.S.: spend half the day attending classes and the other half working for school credits.

In a thinly veiled swipe at the dozens of overseas trips taken by Mayor Daley, Chico said he would “travel with a purpose.”

“As mayor, I will not take a trip abroad without having World Business Chicago and our Office of International Relations work up an aggressive agenda for meeting with potential business investors. Each and every trip will be with the purpose of attracting business to our city,” he said.

Daley has been widely criticized for using funds generated by Chicago’s 159 tax-increment-financing districts as a piggy-bank to subsidize clout-heavy businesses.

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