On Wednesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that Walgreens’ new “Chicago Hometown Investment Initiative” will bring 600 new jobs to Chicago over the next two years. The initiative will also quadruple the number of Walgreens stores located in the city’s food deserts. This is the fifth major jobs announcement Mayor Emanuel has made during his term, for a total of 3,600 jobs.
“This dual investment by Walgreens will have a profound effect on the city of Chicago,” said Mayor Emanuel. “The 600 new jobs will have a strong impact on our economy, and the nearly 40 new stores will allow many of our residents to get fresh, healthy food for their families. This is an example of a corporation that is committed to both the City of Chicago and its mission.”
Walgreens’ plan to expand its downtown office space for E-commerce, information technology, and related areas is expected to produce half of the jobs. The other 300 will result from a remodeling of many of Walgreens’ 142 Chicago drugstores as well as new store openings, including stores in Chicago’s food deserts known as Walgreens food oasis locations. These stores will increase from 11 to nearly 50. They differ from regular Walgreens locations by offering a broader selection of healthy foods in order to address the food desert issue facing many of Chicago’s communities.
“Walgreens is proud of our historic roots in Chicago and pleased to take our presence in the city to a new level by bringing more jobs and contributing to the prosperity and quality of life here,” said Walgreens President and CEO Greg Wasson.“We already employ more than 4,500 people in the city, and the additional jobs we plan to bring here will position us to serve community needs in new and better ways.”
Food deserts have been a priority for Mayor Emanuel during both his campaign and his term. Recently, he convened a summit of CEOS of various grocery chains, including Walgreens, to discuss the problem. The city has also released new maps which use the latest data to outline the food deserts in Chicago.