But just how many jobs?
The developer says a definite 1,200 construction jobs will be created to build the cargo center, and another 1,200 will be created to operate it.
After that, the count gets a bit fuzzy.
Still, Emanuel is calling the project a "massive" development that will establish O'Hare as a world leader in the air cargo industry.
Monday, the mayor walked onto the airfield where -- as soon as next year -- he says giant jets will taxi carrying tons of cargo to be imported or exported by way of a modernized O'Hare.
"We are now taking the next step in making sure O'Hare leads in the world as it relates to cargo traffic," Emanuel said.
Using $130 million of its own money and $62 million from the city, a company called Aeroterm will develop an 840,000-square-foot cargo center on O'Hare's northeast quadrant. the land was purchased by the Daley administration from the military in 1996.
Aeroterm's bosses praised the city's O'Hare Modernization Program for doing more than talking about building infrastructure the company needs to do business.
"We get a lot of strategy, a lot of planning from others. The execution is where the rubber hits the road, and the proof is positive as we sit here today," said Aeroterm's Erin Gruver.
A new O'Hare runway will be finished next year -- in time to support the newest generation of B747-8 cargo planes expected to use the new terminal.
Meanwhile, developers of a proposed south suburban airport near Peotone were unavailable to comment on how the O'Hare expansion might affect their plans for operations heavily dependent on cargo traffic. The fact that O'Hare is ramping up cargo operation could undermine the plan for Peotone.
"It will be largest airside cargo development built in the last decade at a U.S. gateway airport," said Aviation Cmsr. Rosemarie Andolino.
City officials say the construction will be completed in three phases and the mayor promises the project will create many thousands more jobs during the next decade.
"Let's say it was up, running, 1,200 people working there. It supports-- based on economic analysis-- another 10,000 jobs in the transportation, distribution, logistics, as well as facilities moving goods and services through this airport," Emanuel said.
The mayor also said that city colleges will begin training students to work in the air cargo industry.