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Is Chicago's global push stalling?

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One of the things that his publisher says Keith Koeneman will write about in his upcoming biography of Mayor Richard M. Daley is how Daley helped transform Chicago into a sophisticated global city.

But Daley's successor Rahm Emanuel hasn't been building on that momentum, at least not yet, one diplomat says.

Acknowledging that Emanuel has been in office just a few months and understandably has other priorities, Fatih Yildiz, Turkey's consul general based in Chicago, pointed out that Rahm left globalization off the benchmarks he wants to meet in his first year.

fatih yildiz-72.jpg
Fatih Yildiz

"When I bring people from Turkey to make them more aware of what Chicago stands for, they are going back with more than they expected," Yildiz said Wednesday in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Time editorial board. " ... It should be the city's task to reach out as well."

Yildiz, who is Turkey's connection to 12 Midwest states, says the Midwest is not as visible as it should be in Turkey, which he says is the leading exporter to Europe of many industrial products and fourth in the automotive industry.

"You know, when it comes to the globalization ranking of Chicago, it was sixth in the world, but when we go out and talk to people and do business with them, you don't see that perspective with the people. Although there is that huge potential here. So we are trying to do our best ... to open Chicago to the world."

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Global connections can be a mixed blessing. For years I had my office on North Michigan Avenue adjacent to a number of different consulates. The sidewalks were frequently blocked by protesters complaining about something going on in their old country, where they couldn't complain for fear of the secret police.

However, I was only moderately annoyed because I almost always agreed with the protesters that their home governments were tyrants who ought to be kicked out.

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