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Illinois governor, Walgreens unveil economic plan
August 3rd, 2012
DEERFIELD, Ill. – Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Walgreen Co. have announced an economic growth plan that calls for the drug chain to create 500 jobs over three years and invest $75 million to expand and renovate more than two dozen corporate offices in metropolitan Chicago.
The new jobs emerging from the plan, dubbed the Invest Illinois Initiative, are aimed at supporting Walgreens' online business and pharmacy, health and wellness services, the governor's office and Walgreens said Friday. They noted that the new jobs are corporate positions and don't include additional store-level positions the retailer expects to create during the same time frame.
Currently, Walgreens' corporate workforce is housed in 27 office buildings in Deerfield, Northbrook, Buffalo Grove, Lincolnshire, Bannockburn, Mount Prospect, Northlake and Chicago. Plans call for the company's investment to be used for retrofitting disparate offices and making it easier for workers to travel between buildings.
Walgreens has more than 5,000 employees at its Deerfield headquarters and surrounding offices. The chain operates 592 drug stores in Illinois.
"Walgreens has deep roots in Illinois and is an important part of the region’s flourishing health care hub," Quinn said in a statement. "This expansion will create good-paying jobs, attract additional investment to the area and help fuel our economic recovery."
Walgreens opened its first downtown Chicago office in 2010 at the historic Sullivan Center, where its e-commerce staff is based. The drug chain, which opened its first store on Chicago's South Side in 1901, has been based in Deerfield since 1975.
"We are proud of our Illinois heritage," stated Walgreens president and chief executive officer Greg Wasson. "Just as our stores and pharmacies are health and daily living anchors for the communities we serve, we as a company are now recommitted to serving as an economic anchor for northeastern Illinois. A state and workforce that has served us so well for more than a century will now see our footprint grow even larger."
Last June, Walgreens unveiled a major investment plan for Chicago in which it will remodel many of its then 142 drug stores in the city, quadruple its number of "food oasis" stores there and expand its downtown office space, providing an estimated 600 new jobs.
Through that effort, called the Chicago Hometown Investment Initiative, Walgreens said it expected to create about 300 new jobs in the city via new store openings and store remodels, including the planned expansion of its 11 food oasis stores to nearly 50 during the next two years.
Under the agreement announced Friday, Walgreens will be eligible for tax credits tied to retaining 1,500 existing jobs. The state's targeted investment package, estimated at $47 million, includes Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credits, which are based on jobs and distributed over a period of 10 years; tax credits under the High Impact Business Program which supports companies that propose substantial capital investments in operations; and training grants through the Employer Training Investment Program. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is administering the package.