Building a good relationship with the business community has long been a key factor for Chicago's Democratic mayors in maintaining a successful, re-electable identity. But while former Mayor Richard M. Daley approached business leaders from the perspective of an elected official asking a company executive to do his or her civic duty, Emanuel is louder, faster and armed with an undeniable urgency.
Daley would rarely call executives he didn't have some rapport with, leaving that work to aides. Emanuel isn't afraid to pick up his cellphone and dial up a CEO he's never met.
The mayor uses his reputation as a hard charger to his advantage, relentlessly working his phone and challenging executives to "step up" to get them more involved, several advisers said. When talking to business leaders, especially men, he'll often confront them to do more for the city.
"It's like, 'So, you think you are such a big man, why don't you help me fix the city by working with me on this issue or that issue?'" said one Democratic strategist. "He works on their machismo."
At least some of those on the receiving end savor the pugilistic approach.
"Yes, I've heard him use a little bit of colorful language, but I do too," said Jim Reynolds, CEO of Loop Capital Partners and co-leader of the $50 million anti-violence push. "When we go at it, we can have a good time together."
Reynolds, whose investment banking firm has received city business for 15 years, said he typically volunteers his help to the city -- "usually I don't wait until I'm asked."
Emanuel's experience at crafting a national message is evident at City Hall, where his public relations team is looking to weave a company's cooperation into the mayor's narrative about how the city is on the track to economic recovery.
He has made more than 70 announcements about companies pledging to bring more than 25,000 jobs to Chicago.
Many companies that have promised to open an office in Chicago or expand their employment rolls have been featured in co-branded news releases featuring praise from Emanuel while the company's logo stands side by side with the official city seal.
Those types of announcements can provide an image boost for both the company and the city, experts said.
"People are coming to the belief that Chicago really is an economically vital city, but what the double endorsement does is increase the credibility of that kind of information," said Northwestern University marketing professor Bobby Calder. "It's not just the mayor saying it -- there's a business providing factual evidence. And also it's not just the company touting itself -- it's officially endorsed by the government."
Emanuel declined to be interviewed but issued a statement saying he is proud and appreciative that businesses "have stepped up on behalf of their city." His office said there is no connection between approaching companies for civic support and the awarding of contracts for city business.
Few companies have more fully embraced the mayor's strategy than Walgreen, the nation's largest pharmacy chain.
Emanuel and Walgreen CEO Greg Wasson didn't know each other well before the mayor took office in 2011 but quickly developed a mutual admiration.
In June 2011, Wasson was at Emanuel's side during his first summit with CEOs to discuss food deserts. Two weeks later the city and Walgreen jointly announced that the company would add 600 jobs and open more than three dozen new stores in areas of the city deemed to be in need of places to buy fresh groceries.
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