Brad Tietz, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Government Relations and Strategy, testified Monday morning at Chicago’s City Council Finance Committee meeting about Mayor Brandon Johnson’s $1.25 Billion Housing and Economic Development Bond proposal. His remarks to the Committee are included below.

Tietz spoke in favor of the plan, noting the Chamber has some reservations but is ultimately supportive of the ordinance as another key economic development tool to attract job creation and investment to historically underserved communities across Chicago.


Good morning, Chair Dowell and members of the Committee. My name is Brad Tietz, VP of Government Relations and Strategy, with the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. We speak to you today to in support for Substitute Ordinance 2024-7838, the Mayor’s bond authorization for $1.25 billion in bonds to support housing and economic development projects. While there may be potential concerns down the road, we commend Mayor Johnson, Commissioner Boatright, Commissioner Castaneda, and the Administration for putting forth a thoughtful proposal that will compliment, and add to, existing efforts to spur inclusive and equitable economic growth and job creation across Chicago without increasing taxes.

The proposal before the Committee today relies on, as the Civic Federation correctly calls it, re-setting Chicago’s over-usage of TIFs, while recognizing the value that TIFs can continue to provide as an economic development tool when used effectively in targeted ways. In recent years, TIFs have failed to generate the type of catalytic development in areas across the City that need it most, while also providing Administrations and Councils a fall back revenue source to close budget gaps. Relying on the expiring TIF revenue to support development across the City is smart and timely, particularly as 47 TIF districts are due to sunset in the next four years and the City and its sister agencies, particularly CTA and CPS, face significant federal funding cliffs.

Although the proposal hinges on larger questions around TIFs, we cannot lose sight of the fact that these bond funds will allow the city to invest in critical needs, such as funds for small business support, jobs and workforce training programs, and affordable housing and homelessness support at a time when we are in intense national and global competition for jobs and investment.

While supporting the fundamental concept and proposal, we would like to highlight some concerns:

· As mentioned, and identified by the credit rating agencies, our City’s finances are about to enter a precarious moment as federal funds dry up amidst other budgetary pressures and cost drivers continue to rise.

· We agree with the Civic Federation that this proposal does not account for the upcoming Chicago property tax reassessment, which could materially impact the proposal given the increasingly uncertain prospects for Chicago’s commercial real estate sector and the challenges continuing to arise from the mismanagement of the Cook County Assessor’s Office.

· Lastly, while we are encouraged that oversight and transparency guardrails have been put in place via the substitute language, the recent track record for city agencies administering and deploying these types of large programs does give us pause.

We strongly encourage the Administration to work collaboratively with other levels of government and the business community to identify and leverage these bond funds with private investment and existing efforts to secure federal IRA, IIJA, and CHIPs Act funding, along with State Rebuild Illinois capital dollars and other ongoing economic and workforce development initiatives.

To close, I reiterate that the good in this proposal outweighs the potential concerns and the Chamber remains optimistic that this $1.25 billion funding mechanism will support efforts to spur inclusive and equitable economic growth across Chicago. For the reasons mentioned, we encourage the Committee’s support for passage of SO2024-7838 in Committee today and on the City Council floor. Thank you for your time.