Deerfield-based drugstore giant Walgreen Co. and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Wednesday that Walgreens will open dozens of new food outlets as the retailer upgrades stores and expands in Chicago. The plan will include the addition of 600 jobs in the city over the next two years.
The announcement comes as former President Bill Clinton visits Chicago for the next two days to host a meeting of his Clinton Global Initiative designed to come up with new ideas for generating U.S. job growth.
Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are attending the meeting, along with representatives from Fortune 500 companies, including the Coca-Cola Co. and Johnson & Johnson, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Lockheed Martin.
In a statement, Walgreens said about half the jobs will be created from the expansion of Walgreens' downtown office space for E-commerce, information technology and related areas.
The company said that about 300 other jobs in Chicago will be created by new store openings and the remodeling of the retailer's 142 Chicago drugstores.
For about a month, companies in the Chicago area have been announcing job hirings. United Airlines has said it is adding 1,200 jobs over the next two years, while GE Capital said it will add 1,000.
The announcements have had two major focuses: the imprimatur of Emanuel, and the emphasis that there were no incentives promised. This comes in contrast with the announcements from the state ofIllinois to retain thousands of jobs at different companies in exchange for incentives worth millions.
Emanuel joined Walgreens CEO Greg Wasson Wednesday morning to tour a Chatham neighborhood Walgreens that sells fresh fruit. The mayor told reporters the new jobs are a sign of his commitment both to end food deserts and to bring jobs to Chicago.
"There will be employment that has not been seen in the neighborhoods, 300 additional jobs, quadrupling the stores from 11 to 50," Emanuel said of the new positions at the new stores scheduled to be opened in food deserts.
The new Walgreens e-commerce jobs will increase Chicago's foothold in electronic healthcare employment, Emanuel said, building on an announcement earlier this week that Allscripts -- an electronic health records company -- will add 300 jobs in Chicago and host its annual conference here for three years.
"The healthcare IT space -- electronic medical records -- is one of the key growth sectors for the country. Chicago, through both Walgreens and Allscripts, is a leader in this space," Emanuel said. "I don't want to just be a leader. As mayor, I want to dominate that space."
With John ByrneCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun