Chicago Oscar winner

Chicago an Oscar Mayer winner, but for how long?

But like a lot of things Oscar Mayer produces, the company's latest news isn't easy for everyone to digest.

Plans call for 250 Oscar Mayer employees to work at the Aon Center, joining other transplanted workers whom recently merged parent Kraft Heinz is moving from north suburban Northfield to the city. So yay. Chi rocks.

Funny thing, though. Oscar Mayer had 300 non-manufacturing workers in Madison, which means 50 headquarter jobs will be lost in transit.

What's more, Kraft Heinz is shuttering its entire Madison operation within two years. That's 700 more Wisconsin jobs gone — poof — 1, 000 in total, part of an even larger wave of reductions nationally.

Add to that the fact that Kraft Heinz has said it is whacking at least 700 of its Northfield workers before moving day, plus a shift of some cheese production from Champaign may mean job cuts there too.

So it's a net loss for the great metropolitan area and an even bigger loss for the region.

Better, one supposes, to have at least salvaged some of these jobs rather than see them farmed out to Texas or Florida or some international tax haven.

When Kraft and Heinz got together and gilded some executives' parachutes, it was understood that significant cuts would follow. The local losses are merely part of more widespread bloodletting, an effort to eliminate redundancies and streamline and reduce overhead in hopes of making the merger pay off.

It's what businesses do. Fewer people is supposed to mean greater margins, and if there's worry that cuts may be too deep, leave behind too much wreckage or hurt the economies of the communities that had grown with their business, you don't hear about it.

At least in bringing back some of the Oscar Mayer trimmings to the city where Oscar himself, with brothers Gottfried and Max, toiled back in the 19th century and landing some Kraft Heinz office jobs, Chicago makes out better.

But it's like a big ship went down and the life rafts are headed here. You welcome the survivors with open arms. But everyone mourns those who didn't make it, and some will be reluctant to celebrate their good fortune.

"Oscar Mayer's decision to return to Chicago is a reflection of the talent of our workforce, the strength of our world-class transportation networks, and the certainty and confidence we have given businesses that invest in our city, " Emanuel said in a statement.

Now Motorola Solutions already has people in Chicago and in Schaumburg in advance of moving headquarters downtown next summer. But ConAgra — whose brands include Reddi-wip, Slim Jim and Chef Boyardee — is coming from Omaha.

That ConAgra CEO Sean Connolly already lived on the North Shore didn't keep the cash-strapped state of Illinois from offering incentives to grease the move, which will put 700 workers in the Merchandise Mart.

About 300 of those people will move from Omaha and perhaps as many as 250 will come down from the company's offices in suburban Naperville, the company has said.

When ConAgra announced the move a little more than a month ago, it said about 60 positions now based in Naperville would be eliminated and it left unclear what it would do with the remaining Naperville workers who weren't headed downtown.

Hundreds of workers in Omaha not coming east would lose their jobs, it said.

Now if there's an industry that lives and dies by the adage that it's better to eat than be eaten, it's the food business.

This city's stockyards closed 44 years ago, but Chicagoans still should know better than most how sausage gets made. It hasn't seemed to dull appetites here yet.

Maybe these moves will actually spur growth, as Emanuel hopes, rather than serve as the base from which more reductions will eventually come, setting us up to be the next generation's Madison or Omaha.

Chicago is a winner today, no matter what it may feel like, and now its bologna has a first name.

Margin call: John Philip Sousa was born 161 years ago Friday in Washington, D.C. Fittingly, when the great American band conductor and composer died at age 77, it was in mid-March.

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