Past Event

Independent America: Can We Afford the Hidden Cost of Corporatization?

Guest Speakers (see details below):

Intelligentsia : Ellen Shepard, Secretary and Founding Member of Local First Chicago
Pause : Suzanne Keers, Treasurer and Founding Member of Local First Chicago
Chicago Cultural Center : Casey Rutledge, President of Local First Chicago
Valois : Mia Fioritto, Executive Director of Local First Chicago

The Chicago Tribune recently reported that, "Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s hard-fought battle to turn Chicago into a beachhead for urban expansion across the country has come to a quiet end, at least for the foreseeable future, as big-city politics held sway over low prices."

The article suggested that Mayor Daley’s reluctance to engage in a "union showdown" fueled his decision to halt further expansion by America’s wealthiest retailer. However, many Chicagoans have resisted Chicago’s courtship with corporate retailers from the beginning, citing concerns over poverty wage jobs, net economic loss, and the negative impact of chain stores on the unique character of Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Throughout the nation, citizens are questioning the impact of chain stores on their communities. In the past decade, 11,000 independent pharmacies and 40% of independent businesses have shut down. 100 chain restaurants capture over 50% of the money spent by consumers on dining out. As these corporately-held companies move in, locally-owned businesses are forced to move out, leaving communities dependent on businesses that have no reason to stay when times get tough.

With locally owned businesses re-circulating more money back into the Chicago community ($68 out of every $100) than chain stores ($43 out of every $100), can we afford to shop at chain stores?

If shopping can be a political act, how will you vote with your dollars? What does "Independent America" mean to you? How do businesses influence the political process in your community? Are independent business a necessary part of a healthy democracy? Who benefits from chain stores like Walmart? Who is hurt by them? In a community where jobs are few and far between, is the long-term gain from supporting local businesses worth the upfront cost? Who gets to make that decision?

Local First Chicago : and

Local First Chicago is a network of locally owned, independent businesses and community organizations joined together to keep money and character in our neighborhoods and build a thriving local living economy. In doing so, we hope to promote the overall social, economic, and environmental health of our economy and communities. Local First Chicago works primarily through public education, business support, and advocacy.

For more information, call 312.422.5580.