Rauner, Emanuel Cut Ribbon at Factory Amidst CPS Funding Battle

The new factory will create 300 jobs, but the peaceful atmosphere was strained by divisions over CPS funding

As they go back and forth over a budget gap that’s threatening to close Chicago Public Schools early for the summer, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner helped cut the ribbon on a new factory on Chicago’s Southeast Side.

The factory, located in the 2900 block of East 126th Street, will house Urbana-based Flex-N-Gate, an automotive part company. The factory will occupy a 288,000 square foot warehouse, and is expected to create 300 new jobs.

“We will continue to do what we need to do so that the area of the southeast side of Chicago (experiences) a renaissance,” Emanuel said at the event.

Seated next to one another onstage, the two politicians, who have been friends for nearly three decades, focused on the teamwork necessary to secure the funding for the plant, rather than the impasse that they are facing over negotiations for school funding.

“This was a big team effort, and we look forward to having more of this continued team effort, Mayor Emanuel,” Rauner said.

Unfortunately for both sides, it doesn’t appear that a deal over school funding is close, but both have their own ideas on what will be necessary to close the gap between the two sides and bring some certainty to the equation.

“Illinois has to invest in education and they also not only have to give all the school districts certainty, but what they can’t do is have a bait-and-switch where you say ‘here’s what you’re going to do’ and then never pay their bills,” Emanuel said.

“Let’s focus on that we’re working with the city administration, and we need better school funding,” Rauner said. “A new funding formula will improve the funding for Chicago Public Schools.”

Despite the differences between the two sides, they came together to get the deal done to bring the plant to the South Side, and that was not lost on Flex-N-Gate owner Shahid Khan.

“It took a lot of work between our top public officials and their staffs to get this done,” he said. 

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