CEOs give fair warning to Chicago over bad-for-business policies

CME Group, Fulton Market Associations CEOs call on city leaders to address ‘ill-conceived’ crime, tax policies

Two CEOs who have operated their businesses in Chicago for years have raised concerns about a growing number of employers leaving the Windy City over high taxes and crime – and cautioned the exodus will continue.

"I didn't say I would. I didn't threaten I would. I just said if they pass ill-conceived proposals," CME Group Chairman and CEO Terry Duffy said of leaving the city on "Mornings with Maria" Tuesday. 

"And that would be what Mayor Johnson campaigned on through his campaign trail of transaction taxes," Duffy continued, "a whole host of different tax issues that could be detrimental not only to me, but to the residents of Chicago."

"I've worked in Chicago for 33 years as an urban planner. I have never, ever seen a crime like this, unprovoked," Fulton Market Association CEO Roger Romanelli also FOX Business’ Lydia Hu.


While recent statistics have shown that a rising number of Americans are ditching high-tax blue states for business-friendly red states, the same trend applies to Chicago small business owners who have seen less profitability amid rising crime and fiscal pressure.

Police barricade on Chicago street

Chicago businesses are "very shocked" and "deeply concerned" about a city-wide crime surge closing doors and forcing people to relocate, Fulton Market Association CEO Roger Romanelli said on "Mornings with Maria" Tuesday. (Getty Images)

"So the reaction of small businesses across our city are, they are very shocked, they're deeply concerned," Romanelli added, "but they truly care about our city and they want to be part of the solution."

Duffy, who oversees one of the leading derivatives marketplaces, claimed "catastrophic" crime hurts growing Chicago neighborhoods.

"To see that is really sad," Duffy reflected. "I would say the ultimate answer is, the court system here is so bad in Cook County, they need to get these people in courts and hold people accountable. We can catch them. We catch them all the time, but we let them go."

Romanelli indicated city leadership has been approached by other Chicagoans lobbying for additional high-tech street cameras, arguing it would have an immediate impact on crime.

"Our officers have asked for cameras at community meetings," Romanelli said. "We're 1,200 police officers down. If we can get up a network of cameras that can read license plates and catch these criminals, we can reduce crime immediately."

The street pole cameras potentially cost up to $25,000, but the Fulton Market Association CEO claimed other cities have secured them for "far less."

"We're asking Mayor [Brandon] Johnson: tell us, do these cameras cost $25,000 or not?" Romanelli pushed. "Can we get the costs down? Do you support more cameras in our city? We can impact the crime problem right away."

As for CME Group’s CEO, he cautioned that the fleeting business community could create a "big issue" for Chicago.


"If these buildings are vacant, where do they think they're going to get their revenue from on real estate taxes and income taxes and things of that nature? They're going to do it through a $12 billion proposed program that was sent out by supposedly some of the mayor's allies," Duffy said. "It just is not sustainable and it doesn't work."

"You know that those costs get passed off on to somebody else," he added, "and that's the consumer."

Mayor Johnson's office did not respond to Fox News Digital's request for comment.