Mayors Emanuel, Bloomberg host economic roundtable

March 8, 2012 7:14:27 PM PST
World leaders gathered in Chicago Thursday to discuss the future of cities around the globe.

New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in hosting an economic roundtable.

Thursday's meeting comes as Chicago begins spring on the international stage. Mayor Rahm Emanuel was able to highlight his innovative municipal finance program as well as new efforts to transform the sites of soon-to-be abandoned power plants.

The guests represented 40 cities in 30 different countries. Their organization for economic cooperation and development stresses the importance of cities--as opposed to nations, states or provinces--in the 21st century.

"Over the next 30 years the real economic competition in competitiveness and growth will come from the top 50-plus cities of major metropolitan areas around the globe," Mayor Emanuel said.

"In our cities we see the rise and fall of economic growth, we experience social conflict as well as social cohesion," Angel Gurria, OECD secretary general.

The Emanuel administration scheduled the OECD meeting to be another prelude to May when the G8/NATO summits would cement Chicago's image as an international city. Earlier this week, President Obama pulled the plug on the G8 meeting.

"You've got a handful of people who are going to take a quick detour to Camp David and will be coming to Chicago 24 hours later," said Lori Healey, NATO summit host committee chair, in her first comments since the announcement.

Healey says all the G8 countries will send advance teams to Chicago and several thousand media representatives from around the world will be here for the larger two-day NATO summit.

"Chicago is already on the world map, so don't be too worried," Mayor Carolien Gehrels, Amsterdam deputy mayor.

After lunch, Mayor Emanuel took New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the Near Southwest Side to the Fisk coal-generated power plant, which will be shut down later this year. Emanuel announced efforts to clean and redevelop it and the Crawford power generating station.

"The reason you're having this conference here is because in Chicago, a city on the move, a city that is looking for the future, not running away from its challenges but shaping them," Mayor Emanuel said.

During the OECD meeting, it was announced that Chicago's planned infrastructure trust to use private resources to rebuild infrastructure would be used a model for cities around the world.

Next month Chicago will host Nobel Prize winners from around the world, including Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.