World Business Chicago is a capitalist coordinating committee officially sponsored by the City of Chicago and presided by Rahm Emanuel. Its current project is to forge a private/public strategy for the transformation of the entire region. The idea is to overcome the gridlock of federal government programs by creating a corporate-funded infrastructure bank that will renew the region’s decaying transportation and energy backbones. These investments will bring a guaranteed return for the corporations, paid by our tax money and user fees (as demonstrated by the Skyway lease and parking-meter sell-offs). Beyond that, the infrastructure projects are at the center of a vast plan to expand the intermodal freight and warehousing business, pump up high-end manufacturing for export, retool the schools and universities to meet corporate needs, increase the city’s attractiveness as a tourist destination and revalorize (read: gentrify) the juiciest remaining pieces of downtown, lakefront and suburban real-estate.
The interesting thing is that Chicagoland already has a recently created regional planning agency, which is fully public or at least formally public — not just a bunch of corporate CEOs under a municipal umbrella. What is the relation between World Business Chicago and the Chicago Municipal Agency for Planning? Will there be conflicts between these two entities? How would we know? Who is doing the investigating and reporting on these crucial projects that will transform the place we live in?