WBEZ | Economy http://www.wbez.org/news/economy Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Special Series: Global Activism - 'Worldview' Visits India http://www.wbez.org/sections/water/special-series-global-activism-worldview-visits-india-111888 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/India-series%20620%20good.JPG" title="From bottom-center l to r - Jerome McDonnell and Steve Bynum of WBEZ and Nila Vora of India Development Service in Delhi, India with the NGO Community Youth Collective (Photo by Nilesh Kothari)" /><em>Worldview</em> took <em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism">Global Activism</a></em> to India! And we take you along for the ride. For years, India Development Service <a href="http://idsusa.org/">(IDS)</a>, a Chicago-based investment NGO, has brought from India Global Activists to <em>Worldview&nbsp;</em>who work there to make life better. So IDS brought us to India to talk with people doing service and development projects on-the-ground. IDS guided us through big cities like, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad, as well as to remote villages and towns. We met people working to overcome challenges like illiteracy, abuse of women and children, class issues and water security.</p><p><strong>Jerome McDonnell and Steve Bynum of WBEZ&#39;s <em>Worldview</em> and </strong><strong>India Development Service (IDS)</strong><strong> share their adventures in India</strong></p><p>Sunday, May 17th, 2015, 5:00pm-7:30pm</p><p>The Meadows Club2950 Golf Road, Rolling Meadows</p><p>Free of Charge - Dinner Included</p></p> Thu, 16 Apr 2015 09:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/water/special-series-global-activism-worldview-visits-india-111888 Deerfield-based Walgreens aims to close about 200 US stores http://www.wbez.org/news/deerfield-based-walgreens-aims-close-about-200-us-stores-111848 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP080623035054.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Walgreens plans to close about 200 U.S. stores as the nation&#39;s largest drugstore chain expands on a $1 billion cost-reduction plan it announced last August.</p><p>The Deerfield, Illinois, company said Thursday that it also will reorganize its corporate operations and streamline its information technology and other functions. It expects the moves to add $500 million to its estimate for cost savings from its three-year plan.</p><p>The store closings amount to about 2 percent of the 8,232 drugstores it runs in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.</p><p>Spokesman Michael Polzin said Walgreens hasn&#39;t finalized the list of stores it plans to shutter, and the closings will be scattered around the country.</p><p>Walgreen said its moves will lead to a &quot;faster and more agile company.&quot; It expects to book pre-tax charges for the restructuring of between $1.6 billion and $1.8 billion as it implements the program.</p><p>Executive Vice Chairman and Acting CEO Stefano Pessina said in a statement from Walgreens that he remains &quot;as optimistic as ever&quot; about the company&#39;s future, but they need to work proactively to address challenges like growing pressure on reimbursement for pharmaceuticals and competition.</p><p>Drugstore chains like Walgreens and CVS Health Corp. have been seeing growing pressure not only from each other but also from grocery stores and big retailers like Target and Wal-Mart, which are expending their own pharmacy operations.</p><p>Late last year, Walgreens completed a nearly $16 billion deal to purchase the remaining stake of European health and beauty retailer Alliance Boots that it didn&#39;t already own. The company was renamed Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.</p><p>Walgreens initially bought a 45 percent stake in Alliance Boots, which runs the United Kingdom&#39;s largest pharmacy chain, in 2012 for about $6.7 billion in cash and stock. Analysts expect Walgreens will get added negotiating muscle over supplies like pharmaceuticals from the Alliance Boots deal and another ownership stake it acquired in pharmaceutical wholesaler AmerisourceBergen Corp. But the drugstore chain disappointed investors last August when it also lowered a forecast for earnings it expects after combining with Alliance Boots.</p><p>Walgreens also said Thursday that it earned $2.04 billion, or $1.93 per share, in its fiscal second quarter. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, were $1.18 per share.</p><p>That topped Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 94 cents per share.</p><p>But the drugstore chain&#39;s revenue of $26.57 billion fell short of analysts&#39; forecasts for $27.73 billion.</p><p>Walgreen also announced a forecast for full-year earnings in the range of $3.45 to $3.65 per share.</p><p>Analysts expect, on average, earnings of $3.62 per share, according to the data firm FactSet.</p><p>Pessina replaced Greg Wasson as CEO after the company completed the Alliance Boots combination. Walgreens said Thursday it was still searching for a permanent replacement.</p><p>Walgreens shares climbed $2.50, or 2.9 percent, to $90.18 in premarket trading Thursday about 45 minutes before the market open. The stock had already climbed about 15 percent so far this year, as of Wednesday.</p></p> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 09:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/deerfield-based-walgreens-aims-close-about-200-us-stores-111848 Ice stalls Great Lakes shipping season http://www.wbez.org/news/ice-stalls-great-lakes-shipping-season-111806 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Great Lakes_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>For the second year in a row, the spring shipping season is off to a slow start. Ice still covers much of the lakes and most ports don&rsquo;t expect to see international cargo ships for another two weeks.</p><p>April is historically the busiest time of year for the more than 100 ports and commercial docks along the Great Lakes.</p><p>Rick Heimann is port director for Burns Harbor in Portage, Indiana.</p><p>Burns Harbor handles more international cargo than any other port along the Great Lakes, including 15 percent of U.S. steel shipments to Europe. But at the end of March, the docks are empty.</p><p>On any given year, an average of 500,000 trucks, 10,000 railcars and 100 ships will pass through the port.</p><p>It was so cold last year, he didn&rsquo;t see a cargo ship until mid-April.</p><p>Around this time last year, more than half of Lake Michigan was covered in ice. The U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard share the responsibility of clearing the Great Lakes waterways.</p><p>Every year, in early March, they deploy a fleet of icebreakers before the official opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, a 22,000-mile-long waterway that connects the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.</p><p>But U.S. Coast Guard Mark Gill says it was 13 days after opening up the waterway that the first ship was able to reach the locks.</p><p>&ldquo;And a lot of ships incurred damage because they came out and the ice was too hard for them,&rdquo; Gill said.</p><p>Gill says the Coast Guard logged more than 11,000 hours of breaking ice in 2014.</p><p>According to the Lake Carrier&rsquo;s Association, last year&rsquo;s icey waterways cost the economy more than $700 million and nearly 4,000 jobs.</p><p>Mark Baker is president of the Interlake Steamship Company and a member of the Lake Carrier&rsquo;s Association. His boats carry steel. Others along this route carry grains.</p><p>Baker says it took one his ships 23 days to complete a trip that normally takes six.</p><p>&ldquo;And so what happened there was, their inventory levels became critically low. And in some cases, some steel mills last year had to idle plants and cut down on on production,&rdquo; Baker said.</p><p>Baker adds that the the repercussions of a bad shipping season would be felt throughout the U.S. steel industry, which feeds the U.S. auto industry. Baker says his steel is used in small plants in Michigan and Wisconsin.&nbsp;</p><p>The Lake Carriers Association wants the Coast Guard to invest in another heavy icebreaker to keep shipping lanes open during harsh winters.</p><p>But the Coast Guard says last year&rsquo;s winter was unique.</p><p>At the port of Indiana, Heimann says that&#39;s what scary.</p><p>&ldquo;Ice is something that you don&rsquo;t have control over,&rdquo; Heimann said. &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t just say: &lsquo;Ice be-gone or bring the coast guard cutter in all the time.&rsquo;&quot;</p><p>He adds that the delayed start to the 2015 season doesn&#39;t phase him, but he is counting the days until the first ships roll in.</p><p>&ldquo;We are connecting the state of Indiana to the world,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re in the state of Indiana, the heartland of the USA, yet we are only six and a half days away from the Atlantic Ocean.&rdquo;</p><p>Last year, at a time of widespread delays, Burns Harbor recorded its highest cargo volume since the port opened in 1970.</p><p><em>Claudia Morell is a reporter in Chicago. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/claudiamorell" target="_blank">@claudiamorell</a></em></p><p><em>Front and Center is funded by The Joyce Foundation: Improving the quality of life in the Great Lakes region and across the country.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Wed, 01 Apr 2015 16:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ice-stalls-great-lakes-shipping-season-111806 Heinz buying Northfield-based Kraft and building a $28 billion food giant http://www.wbez.org/news/heinz-buying-northfield-based-kraft-and-building-28-billion-food-giant-111765 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/kraftsign.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>NEW YORK &mdash; Some of the most familiar names in ketchup, pickles, cheese and hot dogs are set to come under the same roof after H.J. Heinz Co. announced plans Wednesday to buy Kraft and create one of the world&#39;s largest food and beverage companies.</p><p>The deal would bring together an array of longtime staples in American kitchens, including Oscar Mayer lunchmeats, Jell-O desserts, Miracle Whip spreads, Ore-Ida potatoes and Smart Ones diet foods.</p><p>The combination of the two companies &mdash; each more than a century old &mdash; was engineered by Warren Buffett&#39;s Berkshire Hathaway and Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital, which teamed up just two years ago to buy Heinz. While shoppers are not expected to see any major changes, the creation of The Kraft Heinz Co. reflects the pressures facing some of the biggest packaged food makers in the U.S.</p><p>As consumers increasingly migrate away from popular packaged foods in favor of options they consider less processed, companies including Campbell Soup, General Mills and Kellogg have been slashing costs or striking deals to update their products offerings. The Heinz-Kraft deal is in many ways just the latest example of that, although Buffett noted that the two companies still have a strong base of customers.</p><p>&quot;I think the tastes Kraft and Heinz appeal to are pretty enduring,&quot; he said in a telephone call to the business news channel CNBC.</p><p>Still, the early plans outlined by Kraft and Heinz executives in a conference call Wednesday focused largely on the savings that would be achieved through the deal, rather than the potential for sales growth in North America. They said they expect to save $1.5 billion through moves such as combining manufacturing and distribution networks.</p><p>James Angel, an associate professor of finance at Georgetown University&#39;s McDonough School of Business, said that will probably result in job losses.</p><p>&quot;Even though it is painful for the people involved, those resources will be freed up for other, potentially more productive, uses,&quot; he said.</p><p>The boards of both companies unanimously approved the deal, which still needs a nod from federal regulators and shareholders of Kraft Foods Group Inc. The companies say they expect the deal to close in the second half of the year.</p><p>If the agreement goes through, Kraft is expected to undergo cost-cutting under the management of 3G Capital, which is known for running tight ships.</p><p>The president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which says it represents 3,250 Kraft and Heinz workers in North America, said the union will work with the companies to make sure they &quot;do what is right and responsible&quot; and don&#39;t let cost-cutting measures hurt workers.</p><p>John Cahill, who took over as CEO of Kraft late last year, noted that the new management would drive a &quot;much leaner organization,&quot; as was the case when 3G took over Heinz. He said 3G can &quot;make this happen deeper and faster.&quot;</p><p>&quot;What we have not been thrilled about is some of our execution,&quot; Cahill said.</p><p>The two companies also see potential in pushing their products more aggressively overseas. Since splitting from Mondelez in 2012, Kraft&#39;s business has been primarily concentrated in North America. But executives noted that Kraft&#39;s brands are well known in major markets around the world, including the United Kingdom, Mexico, China and Brazil.</p><p>Already, Heinz gets 61 percent of sales from outside North America, said Bernardo Hees, the CEO of Heinz and a partner at 3G Capital who will become head of the newly created company.</p><p>The deal came together rapidly, Buffett said, having been in the works for only about four weeks. The new company will be co-headquartered in Pittsburgh, where Heinz is based, and the Chicago area, home of Kraft, and will have annual revenue of about $28 billion.</p><p>Eight of its brands have annual sales of $1 billion or more and five others log sales between $500 million and $1 billon every year.</p><p>Shares of Kraft jumped 36 percent Wednesday to close at $83.17.</p><p>The total value of the deal is difficult to gauge because Heinz is privately held. But Kraft shareholders will receive stock in the combined company and a special cash dividend of approximately $10 billion, or $16.50 per share. Each share of Kraft will be converted into one share of Kraft Heinz.</p><p>Current Heinz shareholders will own 51 percent of the combined company, with Kraft shareholders owning a 49 percent stake.</p><p>The Kraft Heinz board will include six directors from the current Heinz board. Those six directors will include three members from Berkshire Hathaway and three members from 3G Capital. The current Kraft board will appoint five directors to the combined company&#39;s board.</p><p>Kraft Heinz plans to keep Kraft&#39;s current dividend once the transaction closes. Kraft has no plans to change its dividend before the deal is complete.</p></p> Wed, 25 Mar 2015 08:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/heinz-buying-northfield-based-kraft-and-building-28-billion-food-giant-111765 Blackstone buying Willis Tower http://www.wbez.org/sections/architecture/blackstone-buying-willis-tower-111704 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/sears-tower-crop.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>NEW YORK &mdash; Blackstone is buying Chicago&#39;s Willis Tower, once called the Sears Tower, from 233 South Wacker LLC.</p><p>While the price has not been announced, <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/blackstone-strikes-deal-for-chicagos-willis-tower-2015-03-15">MarketWatch reported the sale at $1.3 billion</a>.</p><p>The Willis Tower is 110-stories and the second-tallest office building in the U.S. It is the fifth-tallest office building in the world.</p><p>The Willis Tower&#39;s Skydeck, located on the 103rd floor, is a popular tourist attraction. It provides 1.6 million visitors a year with views of Chicago and the surrounding area including from the &quot;Ledge,&quot; glass cubes which extend from the building.</p><p>Jacob Werner, a managing director in Blackstone&#39;s real estate group, said in a statement on Monday that Blackstone sees &quot;great potential in further improving both the building&#39;s retail operations and the tourist experience for one of the most popular destinations for visitors to Chicago.&quot;</p><p>Construction efforts for the tower started in 1970 and it was completed in 1973, according to the tower&#39;s website. The Skydeck officially opened to the public in 1974 and underwent a multi-million dollar renovation in 2000. The tower was officially renamed the Willis Tower in 2009.</p></p> Mon, 16 Mar 2015 08:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/architecture/blackstone-buying-willis-tower-111704 Emanuel counts surprising projects as neighborhood development http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-counts-surprising-projects-neighborhood-development-111685 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Marriott at McCormick Place.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Critics of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel contend he focuses too much on what is good for downtown and not enough on neighborhoods.</p><p>In campaign speeches the mayor vigorously rebutts that. One of his regular sounding points is the $4 billion spent on seven neighborhoods through a program called Neighborhoods Now.</p><p>The mayor reaches that $4 billion number by bundling together a hodgepodge of investments: federal dollars, city dollars, and lots of private cash spent on private ventures.</p><p>Some of the projects are exactly what one would expect from neighborhood development: a grocery store in Englewood, train line updates in Rogers Park, and a wellness center in Little Village.</p><p>But some of the projects WBEZ found in the full list might not be what an average Chicagoan expects when you hear Emanuel describe a program guided by the belief that Chicago&rsquo;s success is measured by &ldquo;whether our families can raise their children in our neighborhoods.&rdquo;</p><p>For example, the full Neighborhoods Now list counts the $44 million in private money SOHO House brought to the West Loop. Soho House is a hip membership club. It requires a headshot, application, and approval from a board to join.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">A quarter of public dollars in one area</span></p><p>Not all the projects on Emanuel&rsquo;s Neighborhoods Now list are privately financed like the Soho house. Nearly a half-billion dollars, ($457,815,397 to be exact) came from the city budget.</p><p>Almost one quarter of those dollars went to an area right around the McCormick Place convention center in the South Loop. It includes two hotels and a new green line L stop. There is also a big stadium where DePaul athletes can play basketball games.</p><p>All that&rsquo;s included as Neighborhood Now, listed under the Bronzeville Neighborhood, just to the south.</p><p>Pat Dowell is the alderman there for the 3rd Ward. Her office said it expects the hotels to bring more people into the the Bronzeville neighborhood.</p><p>But Harold Lucas with the Black Metropolis Convention &amp; Tourism Council isn&rsquo;t so ready to praise the move. He&rsquo;s been a big advocate for bringing attention to Bronzeville. Does the development around McCormick Place sound like neighborhood investment to him?</p><p>&ldquo;It does not, &ldquo; Lucas said. &ldquo;And it tells us we need to be civically engaged ... In making sure that we benefit.&rdquo;</p><p>Lucas said real neighborhood development would have brought bigger investments in community-owned businesses and projects committed to preserving Bronzeville&#39;s rich African-American history.</p><p>There is a bit of a warning in what Lucas is saying. Chicagoans have to pay close attention to what is being touted as community development&mdash;maybe especially around election time.</p><p>They should scrutinize broad initiatives and big money numbers and find out, in concrete terms, what they mean block to block.</p><p>Cook County Commissioner Jesus &ldquo;Chuy&rdquo; Garcia&rsquo;s office didn&rsquo;t respond to repeated requests to describe his specific plans for neighborhoods.</p><p>Emanuel has said if he is re-elected he would double Neighborhoods Now.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her</em><a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h"><em> @shannon_h</em></a></p></p> Wed, 11 Mar 2015 09:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-counts-surprising-projects-neighborhood-development-111685 Illinois Supreme Court to hear arguments on pension law http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-supreme-court-hear-arguments-pension-law-111681 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Illinois_Supreme_Court.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The Illinois Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments Wednesday on the constitutionality of a new state law that would reduce retirement benefits for state employees. At stake is Illinois&rsquo; unpaid pension obligations, which have risen to above $100 billion, in addition to the pension benefits that individual state employees&rsquo; say that they&rsquo;ve been promised through their years of work.</p><p>The lawsuits that were filed against the state come from labor unions representing a range of their members, from suburban and downstate teachers and employees of universities, to cashiers for the Secretary of State&rsquo;s office and state prison correctional officers.</p><p>They say they&rsquo;re protected by the state constitution from the cuts that were approved by a bipartisan mix of lawmakers and that was signed by then-Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. Arguments at Wednesday&rsquo;s Supreme Court hearing are likely to be a high level of legal discourse.</p><p>Here is a short breakdown of the issues presented so far.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">The stakes</span></p><p>The State of Illinois owes more than $100 billion in pension debt. Money from an increase in the statewide income tax rate had been used to make some pension payments, but that tax rate dropped in January with the election of Gov. Bruce Rauner, who has said the state&rsquo;s taxes are too high.</p><p>Many other local governments within Illinois are closely watching how the Supreme Court rules on the statewide pension question. State lawmakers granted the City of Chicago the ability to change retirement benefits for workers and laborers for the city. The city has stalled, changing the benefits to other pension funds.</p><p>Many of Chicago&rsquo;s suburbs are also watching the Supreme Court&rsquo;s ruling as they also look toward restructuring retirement benefits for their police officers, firefighters and other municipal employees.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">The argument <em>for</em> the pension law</span></p><p>The Illinois Attorney General&rsquo;s office has been defending the pension law in court. Attorneys there have argued that although the state pensions have been underfunded for years, the debt is now so large that it puts the government funding of schools, public healthcare and road construction at risk.</p><p>They argue fundamental functions of state government could not be funded without changes to pension benefits for state employees.</p><p>The Attorney General has also said that the pension costs are continuing to increase. For example, they say in court documents that in 1999, the pension fund for suburban and downstate teachers had nearly $11 billion in unfunded liabilities. By 2013, that debt had increased to $55.7 billion.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">The argument <em>against</em> the pension law</span></p><p>Labor unions say the constitution is on their side because it says pension benefits &ldquo;shall not be diminished or impaired.&rdquo;</p><p>According to court filings, attorneys for the unions say the politicians running Illinois state government chose not to fully fund the pensions for decades, and now &ldquo;the State expects the members of those systems to carry on their backs the burden of curing the state&rsquo;s longstanding misconduct.&rdquo;</p><p>Individual employees affected by these pension changes, from teachers to child protection investigators, listed their expected annual pension upon retirement, and have calculated an estimated amount of retirement income they&rsquo;d lose if the law stands. Among some state employees, that number reaches the hundreds of thousands of dollars.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Previous court ruling on the pension law</span></p><p>The unions won round one in court. Sangamon County Judge John Belz said in a written opinion:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;The State of Illinois made a constitutionally protected promise to its employees concerning their pension benefits. Under established and uncontroverted Illinois law, the State of Illinois cannot break this promise.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Attorneys were able to expedite the case to the state Supreme Court.</p><p><em><a href="http://twitter.com/tonyjarnold" target="_blank">Tony Arnold</a> is WBEZ&#39;s state politics reporter. </em></p></p> Tue, 10 Mar 2015 16:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-supreme-court-hear-arguments-pension-law-111681 Chicago campaign finance tracker http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-campaign-finance-tracker-111618 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/money_flickr_401k 2012.PNG" alt="" /><p><p><a href="http://wbez.org/campaigncash">Explore the cash spent on Chicago&#39;s municipal campaigns.</a></p></p> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 18:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-campaign-finance-tracker-111618 Obama visits Chicago to designate Pullman monument, boost mayor http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-visits-chicago-designate-pullman-monument-boost-mayor-111589 <p><div class="sc-type-small"><div><p><strong>▲ LISTEN </strong><em>Chicago cultural historian Tim Samuelson joined WBEZ&#39;s </em>Morning Edition<em> anchor Lisa Labuz to talk about Pullman&#39;s history and what Obama designating it a national monument means.</em></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/pull%20ap%20file.PNG" style="height: 228px; width: 620px;" title="The Pullman Works administration building along with its 12-story clock tower, at left, is highlighted at sunset in Chicago. (AP/File)" /></div></div></div><p>WASHINGTON &mdash; President Barack Obama is turning a historic South Side neighborhood in Chicago into a national monument Thursday, in a visit that also could provide a political lift to the city&#39;s mayor.</p><p>Obama will formally designate the neighborhood where African-American railroad workers won a significant labor agreement in the 1930s as the Pullman National Monument. In the process, the president&#39;s trip to his hometown could help boost turnout for his former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who is up for re-election on Tuesday.</p><p>A <em>Chicago Tribune </em>columnist called the president&#39;s announcement &mdash; commemorating African-Americans who served as porters, waiters and maids on the iconic Pullman sleeper cars &mdash; &quot;a big fat presidential bro-hug&quot; to Emanuel, the president&#39;s &quot;little buddy.&quot;</p><p>The White House says Obama is focused on the historical designation, which honors the neighborhood built by industrialist George Pullman in the 19th century for workers to manufacture luxurious railroad sleeping cars.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Curious City: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/will-pullman-ever-be-revitalized-107758">What would it take to revitalize Pullman?</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>The 203-acre Pullman site includes factories and buildings associated with the Pullman Palace Car Company, which was founded in 1867 and employed thousands of workers to construct and provide service on railroad cars. While the company employed a mostly white workforce to manufacture railroad passenger cars, it also hired former slaves to serve as porters, waiters and maids on its iconic sleeping cars.</p><p>The railroad industry &mdash; Pullman in particular &mdash; was one of the largest employers of African-Americans in the United States by the early 1900s. Pullman workers played a major role in the rise of the black middle class and, through a labor agreement won by the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, they helped launch the civil rights movement of the 20th century, the White House said.</p><p>Emanuel doesn&#39;t have big-name challengers in his push for a second term, but he faces the possibility of a runoff election if he doesn&#39;t get more than 50 percent of the vote Tuesday. A Tribune poll found he&#39;s close to achieving that mark.</p><p>Before leaving Washington, Obama signed a proclamation in the Oval Office designating the Browns Canyon National Monument in Colorado, a 21,000-acre site along the Arkansas River popular for whitewater rafting. In Chicago, he was also expected to announce designation of the Honouliuli National Monument in Hawaii, the site of an internment camp where Japanese-American citizens and prisoners of war were held during World War II.</p><p>In his appearance before students at a South Side magnet school, Obama also will launch the &quot;Every Kid in a Park&quot; initiative to provide all fourth-grade students across the country and their families with free admission to national parks and other federal lands and waters for a year, the White House said. The program begins with the 2015-2016 school year, marking the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service next year.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP469626824839.jpg" style="height: 424px; width: 620px;" title="Federal troops escort a train through jeering, fist-shaking workmen on August 20, 1958 in Chicago in this drawing of an incident during the Pullman strike of 1894. (AP/File)" /></div><p>The White House said the three new monuments &quot;help tell the story of significant events in American history and protect unique natural resources for the benefit of all Americans.&quot;</p><p>The new monuments will bring to 16 the number of national monuments Obama has created under the 1906 Antiquities Act, which grants presidents broad authority to protect historic or ecologically significant sites without congressional approval.</p><p>Some Republicans have complained that Obama has abused his authority, and they renewed their complaints over the new designations, especially the Colorado site, the largest in size by far among the three new monuments.</p><p>Obama should &quot;cut it out,&quot; said Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo. &quot;He is not king. No more acting like King Barack.&quot;</p><p>Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., said he was outraged by what he called &quot;a top-down, big-government land grab by the president that disenfranchises the concerned citizens in the Browns Canyon region&quot; in central Colorado, about 140 miles southwest of Denver.</p><p>Illinois&#39; two senators, Democrat Richard Durbin and Republican Mark Kirk, hailed the Pullman designation.</p><p>&quot;As Chicago&#39;s first national park, Pullman&#39;s 135 years of civil rights and industrial history will be protected and enjoyed for generations to come,&quot; Kirk said in a statement. &quot;This new national park will breathe new economic life into this community, bringing up to 30,000 visitors and more than $40 million each year.&quot;</p><p>Outdoors and wildlife groups hailed the Browns Canyon designation, which they said would allow future generations to enjoy its spectacular landscapes, world-class whitewater rafting, hunting and fishing.</p><p><em>&mdash; Matthew Daly of The Associated Press contributed to this report.</em></p></p> Thu, 19 Feb 2015 13:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-visits-chicago-designate-pullman-monument-boost-mayor-111589 Expedia buying Chicago-based Orbitz for about $1.33 billion http://www.wbez.org/news/expedia-buying-chicago-based-orbitz-about-133-billion-111545 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP203572548074.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>BELLEVUE, Wash. &mdash; Expedia is buying Chicago-based rival online travel siteonline travel rival&nbsp;Orbitz for approximately $1.33 billion to extend its reach in the travel-booking industry.</p><p>It&#39;s Expedia&#39;s second major deal in the past month as the industry consolidates. Expedia announced the $280 million acquisition of another rival, Travelocity, in late January.</p><p>Orbitz based in Chicago, owns CheapTickets, HotelClub. Expedia owns Hotels.com and Hotwire.</p><p>Expedia, based in Bellevue, Washington, will pay $12 per share, a 25 percent premium to the Orbitz&#39; closing price of $9.62 Wednesday.</p><p>The boards of both companies have approved the deal, but it still requires a nod from Orbitz shareholders.</p><p>Orbitz had said in January that it was considering selling itself.</p><p>Shares of Orbitz Worldwide Inc. are up more than 23 percent in premarket trading and Expedia is up 5 percent.</p><p>The other big travel booking company is the Priceline Group, which owns sites like Priceline, Booking.com, Kayak and OpenTable. Priceline&#39;s stock rose 1.8 percent to $1,078.89 in premarket trading.</p><p>While those companies dominate the travel market &mdash; and are taking advantage of quickly-growing markets in developing countries &mdash; they are facing new pressures at home from more-innovative sites like airfare search Hipmunk and last-minute deal site HotelTonight.</p></p> Thu, 12 Feb 2015 08:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/expedia-buying-chicago-based-orbitz-about-133-billion-111545