05/28/2013 01:35 pm ET

Business Takes Aim At City Violence

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On Jan. 4, moments before presiding over the graduation of 56 police recruits, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and an aide met in a small room at Navy Pier with three of corporate Chicago's biggest names: Allstate Corp. Chairman and CEO Tom Wilson, Loop Capital Markets LLC Chairman and CEO Jim Reynolds Jr. and mayoral adviser Michael Sacks, CEO of Grosvenor Capital Management LP.

The subject was the city's scandalous street violence. The horrifying murder of Hadiya Pendleton, the teen who performed at an inaugural event for President Barack Obama, would not happen for another three weeks, but a summer of escalating homicide numbers and high-profile incidents on Michigan Avenue had made the city's safety a national topic of concern.

Although it wouldn't be announced for another month, what emerged from that meeting was an unusual corporate effort to combat street violence. The mayor previously had worked with Messrs. Wilson and Reynolds on anti-violence initiatives and issues in the black community, and he asked them to lead a five-year, $50 million project—one of the largest public-private partnerships for at-risk youth in the nation—with the awkward title of “Get In Chicago.”

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