In the last several months, three large companies have announced they are moving their headquarters out of the Chicago area — and the latest one has cited growing crime in the city as one of the primary reasons for leaving.
Thursday, in a letter to employees, hedge fund manager Ken Griffin — the richest man in Illinois — announced that, after more than 30 years in Chicago, his investment firm Citadel would be relocating to Miami.
“Miami is a vibrant, growing metropolis that embodies the American Dream,” the letter read.
The letter went on to say that while many employees have deep ties to Illinois, “many of our Chicago teams have asked to relocate to Miami, New York and our other offices around the world,” the letter reads.
“We recognize that the choice of where to call home involves personal, family, school and other considerations, and we will provide comprehensive support to meet the needs of our teams.”
Citadel, currently headquartered in the Loop at 131 South Dearborn Street sits in an area that has seen a rash of violent crime in recent months, including fatal shootings, violent armed robberies and car jackings.
Earlier this year Griffin warned he was considering leaving Chicago due to violence, and said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, “If people aren’t safe here, they’re not going to live here,” he said.
“I’ve had multiple colleagues mugged at gunpoint. I’ve had a colleague stabbed on the way to work. Countless issues of burglary. I mean, that’s a really difficult backdrop with which to draw talent to your city from.”
With a net worth estimated by Forbes at more than $25 billion, Griffin has been Chicago’s leading philanthropist.
He’s donated about $600 million to local causes including the Lakefront Trail, the University of Chicago Crime Lab, and the Shedd Aquarium. Griffin has also been noted for his heavy spending on politicians, including pouring $45 million into the Republican gubernatorial Candidate Richard Irvin.
The move follows similar recent announcements from other large companies, as well as grocery stores, with some specifically citing increasing crime and violence as a key consideration in the decision.
Here’s a breakdown:
Boeing Leaving Chicago
Boeing, which moved to the West Loop from Seattle in 2001, this past May announced it would move its headquarters out of the city and into Arlington, Virginia.
“We are excited to build on our foundation here in Northern Virginia,” Boeing President and Chief Executive Officer Dave Calhoun said in a statement. “The region makes strategic sense for our global headquarters given its proximity to our customers and stakeholders, and its access to world-class engineering and technical talent.”
Caterpillar Leaving Deerfield
Earlier this month, construction manufacturing giant Caterpillar, which in 2017 moved it’s headquarters from Peoria to Deerfield, said it was relocating that office to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“We believe it’s in the best strategic interest of the company to make this move, which supports Caterpillar’s strategy for profitable growth as we help our customers build a better, more sustainable world,” Caterpillar’s CEO Jim Umpleby said in a statement.
Grocery Stores Leaving the City
An Aldi store on Chicago’s South Side in the city’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood abruptly closed this week, with gates pulled shut and signage all boarded up.
In a statement, Aldi said that the store closure was based on increasing instances of theft at the location, along with declining sales.
“Our decision was based on several factors, including repeated burglaries and declining sales,” the company said. “Out of concern for our employees and customers…keeping this store open was no longer a sustainable option.”
And, earlier this year, just a few miles away, Whole Foods announced it would close its Englewood store after it opened just six years ago.
“As we continue to position Whole Foods Market for long-term success, we regularly evaluate the performance and growth potential of each of our stores, and we have made the difficult decision to close six stores,” a spokesperson for Whole Foods said.
Of the six stores Whole Foods said it is shutting down, two are in Chicago.
What Officials are Saying
Irvin on Thursday released a statement about Citadel’s move and took a stab at Illinois’ Democratic Governor JB Pritzker, saying that he “is either in complete denial or simply refuses to acknowledge what everyone sees which is that his high-tax, pro- criminal administration is literally driving jobs and businesses out of state. In the last month alone, Illinois lost Boeing, Caterpillar and now Citadel.”
Pritzker also released a statement about the moves, saying “Countless companies are choosing Illinois as their home, as we continue to lead the nation in corporate relocations and had a record number of business start-ups in the past year.”
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot also discussed the move, saying in a statement “We thank the Citadel team for their contributions to our city and their many philanthropic commitments, particularly around education, arts and culture and public safety. We know their story would not be possible without the great strengths of our city”
Citadel’s move is expected to take several years. The firms have more than 1,000 employees in Chicago and while some are expected to remain, how many is unknown.