CHATHAM — Target said it’s sticking to its plans to shutter locations in Chatham and Morgan Park this winter, despite mounting pressure from politicians who have hinted at boycotts and pulling tax-increment financing funding.
Mayoral candidate Bill Daley, the one-time U.S. commerce secretary of brother of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, was the latest to pressure Target. He suggested pulling out of a $13 million TIF-backed deal to help Target build a store on the Northwest Side.
“Target has the right to make this decision and we have the right to withdraw the taxpayer subsidy,” Daley said. “Companies that want taxpayer subsidies should reflect Chicago’s values and value our communities.”
U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush is holding a community meeting about the Target closures later this week. Meanwhile, eight city, county and state elected officials signed their names to a letter addressed to Brian Cornell, president of Target Corporation. In it, they voiced their “concern, dismay and disappointment” over Target’s decision to close their Chatham store located 8560 S. Cottage Grove Ave. and Morgan Park store located at 11840 S. Marshfield Ave.
The elected officials listed under the letter include: Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th); Ald. Carrie Austin (34th); Ald. Michelle Harris (8th); State Sen. Elgie Sims, Jr. (17th); State Rep. Marcus Evans, Jr. (33rd); State Sen. Mattie Hunter (3rd); State Rep. Nicholas Smith (34th); and Cook County Comm. Stanley Moore (4th).
The closing of the stores on Feb. 2 — after the holiday shopping season — was a point of emphasis in letter, “one could only guess is an attempt to further maximize your profits.”
“As a result of this decision, Target is going back on its stated commitment to be a ‘community partner,’ and its disregard of African American communities will most assuredly impact the Corporation’s relationship with it and its over $1.1 trillion in buying power,” the letter reads.
The collective said in the final paragraph that a potential boycott of Target has been discussed within Chicago’s African American community as some people feel “exploited and abandoned.”
Target spokeswoman Jacqueline DeBuse said in a statement to Block Club Chicago that the “difficult” decision to close both the Morgan Park and Chatham stores stands and their current focus is helping Target’s team members transfer to new store locations.
“Our goal is to ensure there are no job losses as a result of these closures,” she said. “With 84 stores and 13,000 Target team members across the metro area, we remain committed to Chicago and our team.”
The letter from the elected officials comes just days after U.S. Rep. Rush held a press conference in the southern end of Target’s parking lot at the Chatham location. He too hinted at a possible boycott at Target but first wants to wait until Target’s corporate office responses to his individual letter.
After learning of Target’s intentions to still close the Chatham and Morgan Park stores closed, Rush issued the following statement to Block Club Chicago:
“It is disappointing that Target has not only refused to engage with these communities but have not responded to my letter,” he wrote. “We are committed in resisting these store closures, which is why we are having a community meeting this Thursday to discuss Target’s decision to abandon the Morgan Park and Chatham neighborhoods and how it will impact the South Side of Chicago. Residents and other community leaders and organizations are demanding that Target keep these stores open and they should listen.”
His upcoming community meeting will be at 6 p.m. Thursday at New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church, 754 E. 77th St.
Several Chicago mayoral candidates offered their own solutions to how to address Target’s departure from the city’s South Side.
Chicago mayoral candidate Amara Enyia said in a statement last week that corporations rarely consult a community when deciding whether or not to leave a community.
“News of Target stores closing in predominantly African American communities only underscores why it is so important that we work to support local businesses, and in particular, small businesses,” Enyia said. “It is also why we must concentrate efforts in building diverse commercial corridors that serve the broad range of community needs.”
“Specifically, the city must create a special incentive program for local ownership by people who live in or near the community and bonuses for sustainable, diverse businesses that are market-tested,” she said. “Creating high density, diverse businesses and prioritizing local ownership can offset any losses from big box stores.”