While many believe such overt quid pro quos have become less common, the wiretapped conversations summarized in the complaint suggest the Chicago Way remains a drag on local commerce. Influential politicians like Burke have wide power to impose obstacles and complications that drive up costs of ordinary business activities that proceed with little if any friction elsewhere. In Chicago, businesses are ripe targets for political toll-takers when they need city approval to expand a plant, remodel a restaurant or improve a driveway.
These extra expenses raise the cost of doing business in the city. Higher costs, in turn, influence business decisions about coming to Chicago, expanding here and staying here.
“Even the fear that this is the way things work in Chicago is a real drag on our business environment and our economy,” says Beth Kregor, director of the University of Chicago’s Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship, who studies business conditions for entrepreneurs in the city. “A lot of folks don’t want to play that game or feel they can’t afford to play that game. We’re losing out on growth and innovation in Chicago.”
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