Creating 1,001 New Jobs

The story of how Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and GE Capital CEO Jeff Immelt recently created 1,000 new jobs in Chicago has already been reported. What’s new here is a story of the 1,001st new job.


The shadows from the elevated train tracks criss crossing the booth in the back of the darkened bar made me almost spill the drinks on both the Mayor and the CEO. Club sodas. For both of them.

Their people were scattered in the dim light front amongst the regulars. You couldn’t have picked them out. And the name of the bar doesn’t matter. It’s the kind of place where people mind their own business. I’d been working there for 6 or 8 months. Long enough to serve back booth customers. To usher them in with just a look and a nod. To know when to talk and when to keep quiet. To make sure the back booth customers knew they had a home here.

So I was there to watch the deal go down. 1,000 new jobs for Chicago. I saw the Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, ‘do the ask.’ I saw the CEO of GE, Jeff Immelt, nod his head and say yes.

They were putting the final touches on what they had already talked over and emailed over the past 3 months. The Mayor’s quote to the newspapers later would be, “I think that Jeff will now change his email and his phone number because I have both.”

The new jobs are skilled technical, commercial and regulatory positions to support GE Capital. There is no government subsidy to prompt the move. GE Capital sees the move as good business.

With the deal done, the electricity in the back booth dialed down. Everybody relaxed a bit. The Mayor and the CEO started talking about how they wanted to get the thing moving quick. They needed another round. So I brought it without being asked and as I put the two drinks on the table said, “So what if I told you that I can get your people up and running, in an on-boarding program, that would cut 20% off your hiring and training costs?”

“Jesus Rahm. Everybody in this town got a deal going down?” said the CEO.

But the Mayor held up the palm of his hand and said, “Wait.” Turned to the CEO and said, “No, but a lot of people are doing whatever they can to get by.” Then he turned to me and said, “Talk.”

“I’ve been building on-boarding programs for years. Lot longer than I’ve been hustling drinks.” I shrugged. Looked at the Mayor straight in the eye and said, “My programs work.”

The CEO said, “If you’d like to send a resume, I’ll get it to our HR person and. . .”

“I appreciate that sir. And no disrespect to your HR people. But the likelihood of them moving the process along any faster or even seeing what they want in my piece of paper is slim to none.”

I saw the Mayor stifle a quiet smile. And nod almost imperceptibly towards me. He then asked very softly, “How do I know your programs work?”

“Because I measure them. And the measures correlate to the metrics of the business. Turnover costs go down. Revenue rises. Productivity rises. I can even tell you about a measure that will correlate to stock price.”

“So where did you get your MBA?” asked the CEO.

“Don’t have one,” I said.

“Well,” asked the Mayor, can people from the businesses you’ve helped, tell us you’ve helped?”

“Going back 25 years, people can tell you that.”

“And when can you have a 30, 60 and 90 day plan on what will change and how it will be measured on Mr. Immelt’s desk?” asked the Mayor.

“Two weeks?”

“Why not tomorrow?” shot back the Mayor.

“Because no one makes a plan alone. I’d have to check in with the right folks at GE.”

That’s when the CEO smiled.

“OK, then,” said the CEO. Looks like we can announce 1,001 new jobs in Chicago.”

And as the Mayor jumped up, glanced at his watch, and grabbed me by the right shoulder all in one fluid motion, he said to the CEO, “You don’t mind if I have a copy of the plan this gentlemen is making for you, do you Jeff?”

“I don’t mind at all Mr. Mayor. I don’t mind at all.”

One Response to “Creating 1,001 New Jobs”

  1. Paul Haider Says:

    GE brings good things to life…and jobs to Chicago. I have been ready for Rahmdom for a long time, and this is what I expected him to deliver. Now, is there anything that Rahm can do for our pathetic baseball teams?
    Paul Haider, Chicago

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