Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to appoint a high-level city task force Thursday to market vacant Dominick’s stores.
The grocery store chain plans to move out of the Chicago market later this month, emptying dozens of stores in the city.
Several companies have announced plans to purchase some of the shuttered stores. Four stores have been sold to Jewel Osco, Whole Foods is a potential buyer for seven stores, and Mariano’s plans to take over 11 locations.
“I have worked very hard during my term to make sure that every Chicagoan has access to grocery stores and other sources that can offer fresh produce and goods at affordable prices. Based on our track record, I am confident we will find operators for stores in every market where there are not sufficient alternatives,” Emanuel said in a statement.
Emanuel intends to use the task force to aggressively market those that are still unaccounted for and hopes it will help to ensure a smooth transition for stores that have been purchased by other grocers.
The force will focus on critical issues involving the specific sites with the vacant Dominick’s stores and the associated economic impacts of the closings, including ensuring access to fresh food and vegetables in key areas, and protecting and supporting workers who are affected by the store closings.
Deputy Mayor Steve Koch will chair the task force, which will also have representatives from the City Council, labor, city departments and agencies, as well as industry experts will be present in the group, officials said.
The group will also be charged with ensuring that the closures do not affect the city’s efforts to combat “food deserts.”
The Task Force will work directly with labor representatives to help seek opportunities for employment with any new operator of a location. It will also draw on the resources of other public agencies, such as the Chicago Cook Workforce Board and the City Colleges of Chicago, to provide assistance to workers who are laid off as a result of the store sales.
The task force will begin immediately.