New Discover customer care center opening in Chatham

A new Discover customer care center will soon open in Chicago's South Side Chatham neighborhood, bringing nearly 1K full-time jobs to the area.

Video Transcript

LORI LIGHTFOOT: Thank you, Roger. And yes, condolences sometimes feels like the more appropriate sentiment, but today is a day for celebration. Good morning, everyone, and thank you all for being here.

Let me start to recognize the other leaders who are here today to participate in this great celebration. Congressman Bobby Rush, Alderman Roderick Sawyer, Alderwoman Michelle Harris, State Representative Nick Smith, and of course, some of the most important people, DL3 Realty President Leon Walker and his team. Thank you, Leon, for your steadfast commitment to Black Chicago. Chicago Cook Partnership CEO Karin Norrington-Reaves Karen, thank you for being here.

And I have to also give a shout out to members of my team who, as you've heard, have been really diligent in making sure that this day could be possible. Let me start with Commissioner Maurice Cox, the commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development, Deputy Mayor Samir Mayekar, who's usually floating-- there you are-- in the back, and Chief Marketing Officer and acting World Business Chicago Leader Michael Fassnacht, who's also with us today. Let me also recognize Marie Lynch, CEO of Skills for Chicagoans Future.

Today is a great day for our city and for the Chatham community, an exciting next step toward fully expanding equity and opportunity across Chicago and unlocking this huge swath of talent in our historically underserved and underinvested communities. This, folks, is what inclusive, equitable development looks like.

In order for us to truly put this terrible pandemic in the rear view mirror and ensure our recovery is as inclusive, equitable, and prosperous as possible, we must seize this moment as an opportunity to foster inclusive economic growth across our entire city, and especially within communities that are struggling the most. That's why we are proud to be joining Discover today to announce plans for its new customer care center, which will undoubtedly serve as a catalyst for the entire Chatham community and surrounding area.

Now, you've heard some of the great opportunity this center will provide, but let me highlight them again, because they really do bear repeating. Once this center is up and operational by 2024, 1,000 full-time jobs.

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And 130 starting this year. Starting wages of more than $17 an hour and, as Roger just told you, plus a full benefit package that includes health care, a savings plan, and paid days off. And on top of all that, these employees will also be able to focus on developing their careers through the Discover college commitment, which offers an opportunity for free college for full-time employees.

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And as you also heard, Discover will partner with local groups to make a portion of this space available as a community gathering space. This is exactly what expanding equity and opportunity looks like. Our residents deserve not only to have access to good-paying sustainable jobs, but they also deserve to have access to the resources that they need to map out their entire career path and to obtain upward mobility, and that's exactly what Discover is offering. Finding ways to provide these essential building blocks for our residents, especially those living in neighborhoods like Chatham, is at the core of our Invest Southwest initiative, a $750 million investment in Black and Brown neighborhoods across Chicago.

Now, I've got to depart from the script for a moment because as you can tell, Reverend Hall got us started off, and I feel a little bit like I'm in church today. You know when I started as mayor and I had the audacity to talk about neighborhoods in Chicago, to see Chicago beyond just the downtown area. Now don't get me wrong, as Leon said, our downtown area is the heart of who we, are and we must make sure we keep strengthening that to make sure that our economic engine continues to pump the lifeblood that we need to be a great city, not only in the states, but in the upper Midwest.

But we cannot be a great city-- we cannot be a great city if our neighborhoods are starving. And so for those people who doubted what I was saying, thought I was naive, didn't understand business, this is what business looks like. Black and Brown people in this city deserve to have good paying jobs. Our neighborhoods deserve to have businesses that bring catalytic effect and transform them for the better. And with every neighborhood, every neighborhood in the city of Chicago that has these kinds of opportunities, we are all the better for it, make no mistake.

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So folks, I want you to follow the lead. Those who are listening, the doubters, the people who are the investors in this city, follow the lead of people like Roger and other companies that have understood that making catalytic and transformative investments in our neighborhood is for the better good, and that is what being equitable and inclusive absolutely looks like. So Invest Southwest, even in the midst of this pandemic, we were able to invest $70 million last year. And what was the return on that investment? $300 million in investments in these neighborhoods where we have targeted and said, we can do better and we must have public-private partnerships. That is what success looks like-- leveraging the power of public-private sector partnership to enhance the economic vibrancy of 10 of our most historically underserved communities on the south and west side, and this customer care center is yet another testament to that vision.

To date, Invest Southwest, as I mentioned, has invested 70 million. We've gotten 300 million back from public and other private investment in these communities. It has motivated the corporate community to come together and align their resources with city investment in new innovative ways. Today's investment is a prime example of that collaboration. Inspired by our city mission to increase investment in south and west sides, Roger and his team choose to build this customer care center right here in Chatham rather than another state or another country, and he and his team are to be commended for that.

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Roger, I said this when we talked some weeks ago, and I was first informed of this opportunity here, and I want to say this publicly. Thank you. I want to thank you for betting on Chicago. And as I said, I know that you could have made this investment anywhere in the world that you wanted, and any other community would have been grateful, but you've chosen to build your stake here in Chicago in Chatham and set an example of what real civic leadership looks like, and we've got to be thankful for your vision, for your belief, and for your concern and care with building a kind of environment that people can have not only good paying jobs, but build a future on, and we are grateful.

People need these good paying jobs. They need jobs with benefits. In this pandemic, we know that even more so than before. And this is a company, ladies and gentlemen, that cares about its people. Some people talk. Some people do. And Roger, thank you for doing and believing in Chicago.

So folks, Roger's commitment also comes on the heels of other major corporate partners who have chosen Chicago for investment and employment opportunities in underserved neighborhoods, and let me just highlight a couple of them. Blue Cross Blue Shield started this work in Morgan Park in building a health care center there, and now recently in Pilsen. Joe Mansueto, who's the primary investor of a new development in West Humboldt Park-- these are neighborhoods that need exactly these kind of investments, because when you build it, they will come, they will come, and we're seeing proof of that everywhere. These are catalytic investments that will transform and attract other businesses, other opportunities to these neighborhoods.

So I could go on and on, but I will wind down my comments and just say this is a great day for Chicago. We are celebrating the 184th birthday of our great city, and what a great way to make that special, by announcing this incredible opportunity for the residents of Chatham and the greater south side.