ILLINOIS (WTVO) — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker has denied assertations that businesses are leaving the state due to violent crime.
During the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Pritzker was asked by CNBC about conditions in Chicago.
CNBC anchor Andrew Sorkin said the network regularly hears from businesses people who want to leave the city due to violent crime, but Pritzker pushed back, saying, “That’s not what we’re hearing. In fact, you saw that Kellogg moved to Chicago just recently, so just another example of corporate headquarters coming to Illinois We’re doing a lot to attract businesses and retain businesses.”
Ken Griffin, formerly the richest man in Illinois, announced in June 2022 that he was uprooting his multibillion-dollar hedge fund, Citadel, and moving to Miami, due to crime.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Griffin said, “If people aren’t safe here, they’re not going to live here. I’ve had multiple colleagues mugged at gunpoint. I’ve had a colleague stabbed on the way to work. Countless issues of burglary. I mean, that’s a really difficult backdrop with which to draw talent to your city from.”
In the CNBC interview, Pritzker said, “We had one business that left, Citadel, because frankly they lost a political election trying to unseat me, wanted to get out, and made it an excuse that we have a high crime rate.”
The last U.S. Census showed that 110,127 people left the state between July 2021 and July 2022.
Construction manufacturer Caterpillar left Illinois for Texas, and aerospace company Boeing has also fled the state.
Chris Kempczinski, McDonald’s CEO, said that the lack of safety is keeping employees from returning to the company’s Chicago headquarters. “There is a general sense that our city is in crisis. The truth is it’s more difficult today to for me to convince a promising McDonald’s executive to relocate to Chicago from one of our other offices than it was just a few years ago,” he said.
Pritzker responded, saying that efforts to reduce crime, including a ban on semi-automatic weapons, are working. “Crime is coming down gradually in the city and across the state. It’s going to take a little while,” he said. “These things don’t come down immediately. But it’s getting better.”
The CNBC hosts also asked Pritzker if the state’s new Safety, Accountability, Fairness, and Equity-Today Act (SAFE-T Act), which, under its Pretrial Fairness Act, abolishes cash bail, is a factor behind higher crime rates.
Pritzker answered that the policy “doesn’t mean you’re just letting the jail doors open.”
The SAFE-T Act was introduced by the Illinois Black Caucus as part of Black legislators’ response to the murder of George Floyd
A legal challenge has prevented the SAFE-T Act from being implemented until a decision on a lawsuit against it is heard.
Sorkin noted that a man was killed on the New York City subway by a criminal who was released due to a similar policy, to which Pritzker responded, saying, Violent criminals shouldn’t be let out on bail. But when you’ve got somebody who committed a nonviolent offense and, frankly, would be kept in jail for months because they just don’t have a few hundred dollars, that’s not a justice system. That’s injustice.”
CNBC anchor Joe Kernen also pressed Pritzker on the rise in “smash and grab” retail theft across the state.
Pritzker dismissed the concerns, saying, “It’s the serious criminals that are committing the violent crimes It’s not people who are committing shoplifting who are going out and stabbing and killing people.”
Although the state created a new law, the INFORM Act, which enforces the crime of Organized Retail Theft, many retailers have voiced concerns that theft is making harder for them to meet operating costs.