In recent months, three major companies have announced they are moving their headquarters outside the Chicago area — and the last one cited rising crime in the city as a top reason for leaving.
On Thursday, in a letter to employees, hedge fund manager Ken Griffin – Illinois’ richest man – announced that after more than 30 years in Chicago, his investment firm Citadel would move to Miami.
“Miami is a vibrant and 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 move to Miami, New York and our other offices around the world,” the letter reads.
“We recognize that choosing 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, is in an area that has seen a wave of violent crime in recent months, including fatal shootings, violent armed robberies and carjackings.
Earlier this year, Griffin warned that he was considering leaving Chicago due to the violence and said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal: “If people aren’t safe here, they won’t live here,” he said.
“I’ve had several colleagues robbed at gunpoint. I had a colleague stabbed on the way to work. Numerous theft issues. I mean, this is a very difficult scenario to attract talent to your city.”
With a net worth estimated by Forbes at over $25 billion, Griffin has been Chicago’s top philanthropist.
He has donated nearly $600 million to local causes, including the Lakefront Trail, the University of Chicago Crime Lab and the Shedd Aquarium. Griffin is also known for his heavy spending on politicians, including dumping $45 million on Republican gubernatorial candidate Richard Irvin.
The move follows similar recent announcements from other major companies as well as supermarkets, with some specifically citing the rise in crime and violence as a major consideration in the decision.
Here’s a breakdown:
Boeing leaving Chicago
Boeing, which moved to Seattle’s West Loop in 2001, last May announced that it would move its headquarters out of the city and to Arlington, Virginia.
“We are excited to build our base here in Northern Virginia,” Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun said in a statement. world-class engineering and technical talent.”
Caterpillar leaving Deerfield
Earlier this month, construction manufacturing giant Caterpillar, which in 2017 moved its headquarters from Peoria to Deerfield, said it was relocating that office to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“We believe it is in the company’s best strategic interest to make this move, which supports Caterpillar’s strategy for profitable growth as we help our customers build a better, more sustainable world,” said Jim Umpleby, Caterpillar’s CEO, in a statement.
Grocery stores out of town
An Aldi store on Chicago’s South Side, in the city’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood, closed abruptly this week, with doors closed and signage all closed.
In a statement, Aldi said the store’s closure was based on an increase in theft cases at the location, along with a drop in sales.
“Our decision was based on several factors, including repeated robberies 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 that it would close its Englewood store after it had been open for just six years.
“As we continue to position Whole Foods Market for long-term success, we regularly assess the performance and growth potential of each of our stores and make the difficult decision to close six stores,” said a spokesperson for Whole Foods.
Of the six stores Whole Foods said it is closing, two are in Chicago.
What the authorities are saying
Irvin on Thursday released a statement on the Citadel move and stabbed Illinois Democratic Governor JB Pritzker, saying he “is in complete denial or simply refuses to recognize what everyone sees, which is that his administration pro-criminal and high-tax pro-criminals are literally driving jobs and businesses out of state. In the last month alone, Illinois has lost Boeing, Caterpillar and now Citadel.”
Pritzker also released a statement about the changes, saying that “numerous companies are choosing Illinois as their home as we continue to lead the country in corporate relocations and have had a record number of start-ups in the past year.”
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot also discussed the move, saying in a statement, “We thank the team at Citadel for their contributions to our city and their many philanthropic commitments, particularly around education, arts and culture, and public safety. that its history would not be possible without the great strengths of our city”
In addition, in the past week, two other major companies, Kellogg and Abbot, have increased their commitment and presence in Chicago.
The Citadel move is expected to take several years. The companies have more than 1,000 employees in Chicago, and while some are expected to remain, how many are unknown.