Chicago mayor: Will take 'Herculean effort' to get businesses to come back

Walmart, Target among businesses in city that can't confirm reopening of stores

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said it would take a "Herculean effort" to keep businesses open in disadvantaged neighborhoods after looting and damage that occurred during the first weekend of protests following the death of George Floyd.

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"I've been on calls and text messages with people all day who fought hard to bring economic development to areas of the city, only to see the Walgreens, the CVS, the grocery store, everything vanish in an eye blink," Lightfoot said on a May 31 call with distraught aldermen. "It's going to take a Herculean effort on the part of all of us to convince businesses not to disappear, to come back. We're prepared to fight that fight."

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Walmart can't confirm it will reopen its Chatham location on the city's South Side after it was ransacked.

"We are still assessing the damage," a Walmart spokesperson told FOX Business. "No decision has been made."

Clean up crews at a Chase Bank branch remove shattered glass early Sunday morning, May 31, 2020, in Chicago, after a night of unrest and protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Charles

Target couldn't confirm it would reopen a nearby location either, The Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Looting damage in metropolitan areas, including Chicago, between May 29 and June 3 totaled more than $400 million, according to an estimate from the Anderson Economic Group released Friday.

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"I haven't seen s--t like this before," Lightfoot said on the call. "The number of places all over the South and West sides in particular that have been hit today has just been off the charts. Literally hundreds, if not thousands, of locations. Big stores, small stores, strip malls, many corner places, it is all over the city."

Some aldermen had accused Lightfoot of prioritizing protecting central Chicago over the city's South and North sides. Lightfoot said on the call that the accusation was "simply not so."

The city will spend up to $1.2 million to hire private security firms to protect local businesses and deter looters, Lightfoot's office said last week, according to the Chicago Tribune.

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“The new guards are unarmed and solely in place to monitor activity on commercial corridors and notify the Chicago Police Department if any illegal activity occurs,” the mayor's office said in a statement to the Tribune. “None of the security guards have policing powers, but are another set of eyes and ears to support efforts to deter looters. All security officers will wear visible identification.”

Lightfoot also announced a $10 million commitment from the city to help businesses damaged by the riots last week.

FOX Business' inquiry to Lightfoot's office was not returned at the time of publication.

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