Suburban-based Walgreens will bring more than 1,800 tech employees back to the city when it moves to the old main post office building on Congress Parkway and Canal Street, Mayor Rahm Emanuel confirmed at a Monday press conference.
“My goal is to get that building moving, both with jobs and a beehive of activity,” Emanuel told Morning Shift host Tony Sarabia. Officials said the 220,000-square-foot office space is expected to open in fall 2019.
Emanuel talked about how the move will impact Chicago and also addressed the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy at the U.S.-Mexico border after a weekend announcement that nearly 2,000 children were separated from their parents in a six-week period — a move Emanuel called “abhorrent.”
‘The key in the ignition’ for more tech moves
Mayor Rahm Emanuel: Take a look at … the Merchandise Mart. It used to be all homeware and now it’s the busiest tech center in the city with 1871 and all the other companies. Here, you have the tech and digital part of Walgreens coming, and like anything, when you have a building empty, your first sale is your hardest. I think this will be the key in the ignition, and a lot of other tech companies that are looking for space in Chicago — we have one of the fastest-growing tech scenes in the United States, if not the world — will be coming now and see this other space.
And this is complementary to our investment which we announced in the redevelopment and modernization of Union Station with the Amtrak, Blue Line, and Metro all there. This allows us to make that section of the central business district come together with thousands and thousands of new jobs and economic opportunity.
On the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy at the U.S.-Mexico border
Tony Sarabia: Do you think Democrats, in Washington and beyond, are doing enough to counter the President’s narrative on the family separations that have been going on along the U.S.-Mexico border?
Emanuel: I find, as both the mayor of a city of immigrants and also a jewish mayor, I find this idea of forced separation of parents from their children … this is abhorrent and totally contradictory to everything America stands for. And it has echoes of things that run against the grain of the idea and the ideals of America.
And the one thing I can say to Donald Trump is he brought Americans together who normally disagree to agree in condemning what he has done here. This is not the America at Ellis Island that looked to the world and said: send us your poor, send us your hungry, send them here.
And it’s not just Democrats, I’ve got to be honest, Tony, I disagree with the premise of the question: It is Americans, and this is not about which party.
Sarabia: I ask in the context because the President keeps saying, “It’s the Democrats’ law.”
Emanuel: This is because his hands and his fingerprints are at the crime scene and he’s trying to blame everybody else. Notice, though, what this President has done. He did it with Dreamers and now he’s doing it at the border: He is trying to use kids to pressure a political system to get in the immigration policies that nobody else wants to accept of his. And he’s using the most vulnerable elements of society — children — as a tool and a bargaining chip to literally usher in an immigration policy that has no consensus. And rather than lead, he’s hiding behind children and blaming other people.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire interview, which was adapted for the web by Arionne Nettles.