''I have brought together this group of leaders to help address the potential impacts of closing grocery stores on our neighborhoods, residents, and workers," said Mayor Emanuel. "I look forward to reviewing their suggestions and putting their ideas into action, so we may ensure that these community anchors stay economically viable, that worker jobs are protected, and that Chicagoans have access to healthy food."
The members of the task force are: Steven Koch, Deputy Mayor, City of Chicago. Andrew Mooney, Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development, City of Chicago. Ald. Leslie Hairston, 5th Ward. Ald. Joe Moore, 49th Ward. Ald. Patrick O'Connor, 40th Ward. Rev. Dr. Janette C. Wilson is an attorney and community advocate focusing on education and neighborhood economic development. Jorge Ramirez, President, Chicago Federation of Labor. Steve Powell, Secretary Treasurer, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 881. Mike Mallon, Principal, dkmallon, a food industry consulting firm. Joel Bookman, Principal, Bookman Associations, a community development consulting firm. Craig Chico, Executive Director of Back of the Yards Council. Carlos Nelson, Executive Director of Auburn Gresham Community Development Corporation. Frank Petruziello, Principal, the Skilken Company. Angel Gutierrez, Vice President of Community Development and Outreach Services, Catholic Charities Chicago.
The Mayor's office, in a release said the task force will work to ensure smooth transitions of those stores that have been purchased by other grocers and to aggressively market those that are still unaccounted for.
The task force will focus on three critical issues: the specific sites with the vacant Dominick's stores and the associated economic impacts of the closings; ensuring access to fresh food and vegetables in key areas; and protecting and supporting workers who are affected by the store closings. Specifically, the Task Force will be consulting with building owners and/or their representatives, gathering local market data, finding and approaching likely prospects in the food industry, and hosting tours/creating marketing materials/engaging brokers, the statement said.
Dominick's parent company, Safeway, announced in November it was pulling out of the Chicago area market by the end of the year. The company has announced plans for three of its 13 stores in Chicago, which will be sold to Mariano's. In anticipation that one or more stores may not have an immediate operator to succeed Dominick's, this task force is being created to ensure that these stores are returned to market quickly and efficiently, to the benefit of the communities and the workers.
The statement said the Task Force will also seek to address food access issues and will focus on specific areas where the closing of Dominick's stores may affect food access for Chicagoans.
Mariano's is buying three stores in Chicago on South Ashland, West Chicago Avenue and North Sheridan Road. The other eight are suburban stores in Park Ridge, Western Springs, Northfield and Westchester, and stores in Buffalo Grove, Gurnee, Aurora and Shorewood.
Dominick's will close stores on Dec., 28, 2013.