Mayor Rahm Emanuel has taken heat from crime-weary aldermen for using $1 million of the money left unclaimed after a token property tax rebate to offer cybersecurity training at Wright College in partnership with the Department of Defense.
The mayor has argued that jobs are the long-term solution to Chicago’s skyrocketing murder rate and that he wants to train City Colleges students for the 200,000 new jobs that become available each year in the field of cybersecurity.
On Thursday, Big Four accounting giant KPMG punctuated the mayor’s argument.
The audit, tax and advisory firm announced plans to add another 500 jobs to its Chicago office by 2020, many of them in the booming cybersecurity field.
The job growth is particularly impressive considering the fact that the 2,300-employee Chicago office has already added 500 employees since 2012, fueled by “unprecedented growth” in its cybersecurity practice.
Tony Buffomante, KPMG’s national leader for cyber services, said the “rapid pace of business innovation” has made cybersecurity the “number one board-level issue and the No. 1 risk preventing” companies from achieving their business objectives.
“Imagine a world where you are walking down the street and you get an alert on your phone from a retailer with a targeted offer for something that they know that you like. And you also happen to be standing directly outside the store so they know where you are,” Buffomante said during a discussion before a small group of employees and Mayor Rahm Emanuel Thursday at KPMG’s downtown headquarters.
“Imagine your car driving you down the Eisenhower as opposed to the other way around. And imagine having a technology device implanted in your body to maintain proper organ maintenance and function. Well, we don’t even need to imagine that anymore. These days are here. The technology and innovation is upon us in a way that we’ve never seen before.”
That helps explain why 77 percent of global CEO’s surveyed recently by KPMG identified technology and business innovation as the No. 1 issue in their strategic planning for the next three years, Buffomante said. It also explains why 62 percent of those surveyed acknowledged their companies are “not ready” to handle the risk.
“There are an unbelievable amount of data-connected devices — an ultimate explosion of personal information out there. Imagine the risks that go along with that,” Buffomante said.
“No longer are we only concerned about a lost credit card or stolen identity, which certainly can be a nuisance. Candidly, we’re talking about much more in-depth topics around personal privacy. Candidly, [it’s] your health and wellness.”
Buffomante said there’s good reason why Chicago has become “a hub for our cybersecurity practice.”
“The businesses that are here — not only locally but the clients they serve globally. Major organizations moving to the city. Access to transportation to get our folks spread across the country to serve the clients — not only nationally but globally. And certainly the talent. And the announcement of the Wright College piece is incredible for us to give additional talent and training opportunities for those young folks we’re trying to bring into this marketplace,” he said.
The validation for Emanuel’s investment in cybersecurity training was music to the mayor’s ears — particularly after the heat he has taken from aldermen.
“I wanted to make sure that we, as a city, were investing in the most important areas of growth and technology, which is gonna be cybersecurity. There’ll be no shortage of possibilities there,” the mayor said.
“I talked to some of your colleagues. … They’re all going to [Illinois Institute of Technology]. They’re going to all these universities. But I wanted to make sure the students [who] go to Wright Community college have a shot at these jobs that you’re bringing here because your IT is gonna be the big focal point of this expansion.”
Chicago has been on the winning end of a parade of corporate relocations in the last two years.
They include Conagra, McDonald’s, Motorola Solutions, Kraft-Heinz, Duracell and Mars-Wrigley. In several of those cases, including McDonald’s, Motorola Solutions and Kraft Heinz, Chicago’s win came at the expense of the surrounding suburbs.
According to Site Selection Magazine, Chicago leads the nation in corporate relocations over the last three years.
Last month, Caterpillar Inc. canceled plans to build a new complex in downstate Peoria and announced plans to move its headquarters to the Chicago area. The company has not yet decided whether the new headquarters will be in the city or in the suburbs near O’Hare Airport.