Governor J.B. Pritzker (D-IL) rejected the notion that businesses are fleeing his state because of violent crime and insisted that his efforts to improve public safety are working.
The official discussed the dismal condition of Chicago in an interview with CNBC during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. When CNBC anchor Andrew Ross Sorkin mentioned that his outlet routinely hears from business leaders who want to flee the city, Pritzker dismissed the concerns.
“That’s not what we’re hearing. In fact, you saw that Kellogg moved to Chicago just recently, so just another example of corporate headquarters coming to Illinois,” he responded. “We’re doing a lot to attract businesses and retain businesses.”
Large businesses such as construction manufacturer Caterpillar and aerospace firm Boeing have nevertheless exited Illinois in the past year. Investment firm Citadel likewise moved its headquarters from the Windy City to Miami, Florida, under the leadership of chief executive Ken Griffin, who was formerly the richest man in Illinois and one of the state’s most prolific philanthropists. The entrepreneur is also a prominent Republican campaign donor and unsuccessfully attempted to unseat Pritzker during the most recent midterm elections.
“We had one business that left, Citadel, because frankly they lost a political election trying to unseat me, wanted to get out, and made it an excuse that we have a high crime rate,” he added.
Griffin began purchasing property in the Sunshine State last year after voicing concerns about the lackluster business climate and rising violent crime. He indicated during a recent interview that a breaking point occurred for him after the violent assault of two separate colleagues: one was robbed after a person put “a gun to his head” during a coffee run, and another was attacked by “some random lunatic just trying to punch him in the head” while he was waiting for a car.
A source familiar with Citadel’s decision to leave Chicago confirmed with The Daily Wire that the move was unrelated to the election and was rather spurred by the company’s difficulty with attracting talent due to elevated crime rates.
Sorkin noted that McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski represents another prominent executive who has voiced concerns about the effects of crime on business. Pritzker responded that “crime prevention dollars” and a recent assault weapons ban have started to decrease violence. “Crime is coming down gradually in the city and across the state. It’s going to take a little while,” he said. “These things don’t come down immediately. But it’s getting better.”
CNBC anchor Joe Kernen pressed the official on whether moves to eliminate cash bail are a factor behind higher crime rates. Pritzker replied that the policy “doesn’t mean you’re just letting the jail doors open” and doubled down after Sorkin noted that an employee of Goldman Sachs was recently killed on the subway in New York City by a criminal released under a similar policy.
“Violent criminals shouldn’t be let out on bail,” Pritzker continued. “But when you’ve got somebody who committed a nonviolent offense and frankly would be kept in jail for months because they just don’t have a few hundred dollars, that’s not a justice system. That’s injustice.”
Kernen noted that Illinois has also failed to prevent crime such as organized retail theft, under which dozens of individuals cooperate to overwhelm security and empty the shelves of a store. “It’s the serious criminals that are committing the violent crimes,” Pritzker insisted. “It’s not people who are committing shoplifting who are going out and stabbing and killing people.”