Kanye West used a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday to seek more manufacturing jobs for Illinois.
A Chicago state Representative said it’s now time to find the political will at the statehouse.
Chicago has had a long-running problem with violence and shooting deaths. West recently said he’s moving back to Chicago, where he grew up, to help address the issue. After Trump’s announcement this week that would get the U.S. Department of Justice involved in the city, West set up a meeting with the president.
In the Oval Office, West told the president there are a whole host of things that need to happen. One is bringing more manufacturers to the U.S. West said those operations shouldn’t just set up along the coasts, but in the core.
“And Chicago is the core of middle American and we have to make middle America strong,” West said. “In my hometown of Chicago, and the 2.7 million to the 9 million [people] in surrounding suburbs, where we can create some factories, and I think it would be cool for them to have Trump factories because he’s a master of industry and he’s a builder.”
Wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat, West encouraged the president to keep working to bring more manufacturing jobs to Chicago. West said that when factories move to other countries, Americans are cheated.
“We’re putting people in positions to have to do illegal things to end up in the cheapest factory ever – the prison system,” West said.
After West spoke for about 10 minutes on a number of different topics, Trump said: “I tell you what, that was pretty impressive folks.”
West said tax breaks could help attract businesses to Chicago and the suburbs. The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association has long said Illinois is too expensive overall for businesses. The organization has also said that neighboring states that have lower workers’ compensation costs and lower real estate taxes are more desirable locations for manufacturing companies.
State Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, said reforms are needed to make Illinois more attractive.
“It also has to be very competitive with our neighboring states by reducing the overhead cost to these businesses if they’re going to be partners in the community,” Ford said.
Before West traveled to the White House, he spent time with Ford in Chicago.
“Kanye West is focused on humanity, he’s got a mind of his own and I enjoyed spending a whole day with him,” Ford said. “He’s got a vision and his heart is filled with love and what he wants is for everyone to be respected for everyone’s voice to be heard.”
Ford said West has the right idea – increase prospects for blue collar jobs to decrease the need for people to resort to crime. He also said West is focused on getting people prepared for skilled jobs, not just for higher education.
“We pretty much focus on colleges and universities and not enough on manufacturing and if we do that I think we’ll see a better city,” Ford said.
West told Trump to continue to cut taxes for businesses to spur economic activity.
Ford said the state legislature must make the cost of doing business in Illinois competitive with neighboring states. But, Ford said, that’s going to take political will from the legislature.
Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other statewide issues for Illinois News Network and Watchdog.org. Bishop has years of award winning broadcast experience, and previously hosted “Bishop On Air,” a morning-drive current events talk show.
A version of this article previously appeared on Watchdog.org under the headline, “Kanye tells Trump he wants more manufacturing jobs in Chicago.”
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