So far, Chicago's only got one Walmart - which is wonderful and crazy when you think how many there are in most other cities. And it's not for lack of trying. Walmart has long envisioned dozens of stores here, but the City Council's zoning committee has consistently thwarted the chain's plans, denying permission to build due to concerns about low wages and poor worker treatment.
But that's all about to change now that the corporation has granted more concessions to labor rights advocates.
In a June 24 press conference, the Chicago Federation of Labor announced it supported Walmart's newest store, noting that the company had promised to pay its workers $8.75/hour – 50 cents more than Illinois minimum wage – with a 40 cent raise after one year.
Just hours after the labor union threw its support behind Walmart, the City Council's zoning committee followed suit, giving Walmart approval to build its second store in the Pullman neighborhood on the South Side.
The full council must now approve the bid, and chances are that it will, meaning a short-term solution to the unemployment problems we face, but a long-term disaster for local businesses
Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood is about to get even cooler. The much-loved Old Town School of Folk Music is opening its new two-story, 27-000-square-foot building in just a few months. The additional space will include more all-purpose classrooms, dance studios as well as soundproof rooms for electric instrument classes.
Beyond the sheer increase in class offerings, there are other reasons to welcome the expansion. Old Town will hire about 250 more employees and increase business traffic throughout the neighborhood with an additional 230,000 visits annually. Also, builders are working with locally sourced, recycled construction material and installing energy-efficient heating and cooling systems in an effort to gain LEED-certification and conserve resources.
So if you’ve been hankering to try your hand at a new instrument but just keep putting it off, there’s never been a better time to check out Old Town. Sign up for classes and learn more about the expansion project at www.oldtownschool.org.