The Chicago Tribune reports:
Chicago’s business community, which repeatedly stood and delivered for Mayor Richard Daley as he reshaped a once-sagging industrial city, was shaken to learn Tuesday that he is stepping aside as the city once again faces dire financial challenges.
The mayor’s announcement that he will not run for re-election in 2011 “is unfortunate at this point in time because we’re still in a recession and a very difficult economic environment here,” said Ronald Gidwitz, the former chief executive of Helene Curtis. “So having another level of uncertainty is not good for encouraging job growth.”
This unsettled feeling is new to corporate and philanthropic Chicago. During Daley’s 21 years in office, he built a tight relationship with business, and his agenda became their agenda in many ways.
“Business leaders have taken great comfort in his leadership and his willingness to build the city into its modern state, with his successes on the expansion of O’Hare Airport and McCormick Place and the creation of Millennium Park,” said Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation.
And his ability to land the corporate headquarters of Boeing Co. and MillerCoors also “lent confidence to the business community,” noted Gidwitz, who was a candidate in the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary.
Time and again, corporate and philanthropic Chicago responded to Daley’s calls to help finance projects aimed at urban revival, ranging from the creation of Millennium Park and inner-city charter schools to the city’s unsuccessful bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Some say business leaders were afraid to buck city hall and felt obliged to go along with Daley’s pet projects, with many breathing a sigh of relief when the city lost its Olympics bid last fall. But others see a truer partnership over the years, with fruitful results.
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