I’ve seen the possibilities and potential of this state from so many vantage points. I cannot sit back and watch as state government stands in the way of what’s possible. It’s time to restore the American Dream to the people of Illinois.
All my adult life I have played leadership roles in economic development, job creation, higher education and in progressive politics. I have worked in agriculture, tourism, trade shows, real estate development and manufacturing, and have seen our economy work in many ways through many companies and in many industries. More companies have moved to Illinois to open offices in the Merchandise Mart Center than anywhere else in the state; I know how to get them to come here and to expand once they arrive.
From my earliest days, my family instilled in me the importance of the two great traditions of our country: a dedication to the free market and a commitment to the common good.
Thirty years ago, I moved to Illinois committed to the ideal of serving others. By the age of 27, I was married, a father, working at The Merchandise Mart, and the chairman of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the nation’s largest food bank. Over the years, I have played leadership roles in dozens of non-profit and civic organizations that seek to better the lives of disenfranchised Illinois citizens and strengthen Illinois businesses. I know how our economy works because I have helped lead it, but I also know who is being left behind because I have served them.
The promise of our country is the great idea that anyone can make it here, that if you work hard and play by the rules then America is the land of opportunity where you can rise from rags to riches. But today in Illinois, 75% of the kids who graduate from our high schools are not workplace ready. They are not college ready. They can’t go to school and they won’t find a job where they can command a salary that allows them to participate in the American dream. People are angry, they are scared — and they should be.
I know how to fix these problems; I can work with people who don’t embrace my ideology, I’ve done it my entire life. Negotiation, I know, is not surrender.
We can restore the American Dream in a single generation. Illinois has the grit, tenacity, humanity and humility to get the job done. I know we can do it and with your help we will.