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Lightfoot: Optimism in city high even as economy uncertain

Lightfoot said that in the next few weeks, she plans to create the “Chicago Council of Economic Advisers.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday she will be creating a Chicago Council of Economic Advisors.
Sun-Times Media

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday that optimism in the city is at an “all-time high,” even as parts of the economy are “spiraling toward oblivion.”

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce downtown, Lightfoot said that in the next few weeks, she plans to create the Chicago Council of Economic Advisers — “to help us find non-partisan solutions to our economic challenges.”

Lightfoot highlighted the poverty-driven violence during the Memorial Day weekend.

“Between the parades and the street festivals were swaths of our city, deserted — street after street, block after block,” she said. “Unless we bring meaningful investment to these neighborhoods, they will be lost and our city with it.”

Noting the city has lost residents four years in a row, Lightfoot said: “You need only look at our declining population to see that the strategy of focusing exclusively on the downtown while ignoring the neighborhoods is not working.”

She praised last weekend’s passage in Springfield of a major infrastructure bill.

“For the first time in over a decade, we can leverage tens of billions of dollars in state funding to refresh our infrastructure — the foundation of our shared growth,” she said.

In April, Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz had suggested Lightfoot hold one breakfast meeting a month with no more than 10 business leaders at a time to “engage in structured discussions around concerns” on both sides.

  • Lightfoot on Tuesday also announced that Juan Carlos Linares will be chief engagement officer in the Office of Public Engagement.

In a news release, the mayor’s office said Linares will “lead her administration’s efforts in improving outcomes of all Chicago’s communities.”

Linares is executive director of LUCHA, a Chicago-based agency affordable housing development agency.

Contributing: Fran Spielman