Amazon has announced a stunning plan to open “HQ2” — a new, 50,000-worker second headquarters. Mayor Rahm Emanuel immediately put Chicago in the running for this mega employment and economic engine, and has reportedly spoken with Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos several times about picking Chicago.
Attractive as Chicago may be to employers, Amazon will inevitably choose a location that gives it maximum economic advantage, and it will have plenty of suitors. Bidding cities will offer Amazon “packages” of financial incentives and tax breaks, and Chicago would have to match those and offer its own costly concessions.
But there is an additional strategy to entice Amazon, one that does not cost a penny and that could make Chicago all the more attractive. Ban the noncompete agreements in employment contracts. Open the job market for competitive mobility, allowing Amazon to poach the best workers for its new hub. Gov. Bruce Rauner has recently put forth such a proposal to ban noncompete clauses, and it is time for Illinois legislators to write it into the law.
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