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The Mayor identified keys to promoting a high quality of life for Chicagoans in all neighborhoods across the city: strong schools, safe streets, and sound finances. “We are creating the conditions that create jobs,” Emanuel said. “We are repairing our past, preparing for our future, and keeping an eye on where we are going.”
The success of Chicago’s students highlighted the first part of the remarks. “These are great kids. Full of potential. I’m proud we’ve made fundamental changes” to our schools, Emanuel said. “Children of Chicago deserve a full day, a full year, equal to their ambition.” The Mayor stressed the need for accountability throughout the school system, as well as parental involvement and safe streets for the 1/3rd of students who walk to school. “Our children deserve a quality neighborhood and a high quality of life.”
Emanuel spoke about his proposed budget, focusing on new efforts such as a City workforce wellness initiative, competitive bidding in city services, and an investment in the rainy day fund, all of which will help balance the budget and prepare Chicago for the future. “While we’re making fundamental changes, we have an eye to the future,” Emanuel said. “At the end of the day, taxpayers win. They will be the beneficiaries of better services at lower costs.”
The Mayor then discussed innovation and economic development and the City’s plans to attract and retain businesses. Discussing the City’s international profile and footprint, the Mayor spoke of “inherent strengths where we have a crucial strategic advantage.” He cited a recent report that states Chicago is the only North American city that is going to become a mega-City in the next 15 years. “This is a city that is going places,” he said. “This is a city on the move. If we make decisions, if we make the tough calls, the families that make up this city will be rewarded.”
The event kicked off with Melissa Bean, former congressman and current executive director of The Executives Club, who characterized the Mayor as a “devoted father and public servant” and invited him to share his vision for Chicago’s future. David Nelms, the chairman of the board for the Executives Club, said that under the Mayor’s leadership, “City Hall has changed the way it does business.” The speech was made on the same day that the Emanuel Administration announced Dow Chemical Company is bringing 400 jobs to Chicago over the course of the next three years.