EDITORIAL: Can ‘The 78’ teach us how to upend Chicago’s ‘tale of two cities?’
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Chicago has got to shed its “tale of two cities” image.
So it’s well worth paying attention to what happens in a big new development called “The 78.” We might learn a little about how to best counter the racial inequality and violence that besets our city.
Chicago needs a new story of “one city,” characterized by equity and inclusion. In minority neighborhoods, more jobs and economic opportunity are sorely needed.
Tens of thousands of jobs will be in the mix as The 78 — billed as Chicago’s “next great neighborhood,” adding to the existing 77 — takes shape on a 62-acre parcel at Clark Street and Roosevelt Road in the South Loop.
To ensure that underrepresented groups get a fair share of jobs and contracts, developer Related Midwest has created a “diversity council” of outside partners, including nonprofits and minority contracting and labor groups. The council will monitor hiring and contracting for the planned $7 billion mixed-use development, which is expected to generate 15,000 construction jobs and 24,000 permanent jobs.
“We’re not just going to have a job fair and call it a day,” Related Midwest’s Dan Biernacki told the Sun-Times.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get this right, and set the standard for how other organizations can do this in the city, state and nation,” said Jorge Perez of the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association.
As the mayoral election ramps up, we expect to hear about a lot of crime-fighting strategies, such as more surveillance cameras and drones.
But the more solutions focus on the positive, targeting the roots of crime by creating good jobs and a sense of hope, the better.
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