CFL News
March 02, 2012

Clinton in Chicago for jobs announcement

VIDEO: President Bill Clinton joined Mayor Rahm Emanuel and labor leaders at a Carpenters training facility in Chicago to announce an infrastructure trust to put people to work on transformative infrastructure projects

Source: ABC 7

By Charles Thomas

March 1, 2012 (CHICAGO) -- To hear former President Clinton tell it, this day made history in municipal finance not only here in Chicago but also throughout the United States.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants this to be the first city in the country to rebuild its infrastructure using private capital.

For the widest possible coverage, the mayor imported his first White House boss and old friend President Clinton to put the announcement in perspective.


"What you are doing here is the first, in effect, infrastructure bank using private capital that any city in the United States has established," Clinton said.

Clinton's foundation has helped foreign cities attract private investors to underwrite what historically have been projects financed directly by government grants or bonds. The Emanuel administration projects during the first year, it will raise as much as $1.7 billion for the Chicago infrastructure trust

"We have a 21st century economy sitting on a 20th century foundation," Emanuel said. "And unless we modernize it, we're not going get moving."

Pending aldermanic approval, the trust's first project will be the $225 million retrofit of city buildings to reduce their energy consumption. The $20 million a year in savings would repay the trust, with interest, and create 2,000 construction jobs in the process

"There's a lot of cities throughout the nation that are having a hard time moving infrastructure," said Chicago Federation of Labor's Jorge Ramirez. "This is designed to break that and get people to work now."

"The old way of doing things, investing in our infrastructure, is broken," said Emauel.

The mayor said with federal and state grants drying up, the city must turn to the private sector.

"Canada does it, Europe does it, Latin America does it, Asia does it," he said. "We just haven't done it here."

The first five private financiers in the trust include Macquarie Infrastructure, which leased the Skyway, Citibank, Citi Infrastructure, J.P. Morgan and Ullico.

Emanuel was asked what control, if any, the privateers would have over infrastructure they help rebuild with their money.

"That's a decision the city will make," he said. "And it's only for things that are transformative for us."

(Copyright ©2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)