Jun 28, 2022 - Business

Corporate headquarters leaving Chicago

guy in front of building
Ken Griffin, the founder and CEO of Citadel, in 2014. Photo: E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune via Getty Images

Illinois is in the middle of a high-stakes game of corporate musical chairs — and we might be the one left without a seat.

Driving the news: Billionaire Ken Griffin announced he was moving the headquarters of his hedge fund, Citadel, from Chicago to Miami last week.

  • It was the third large corporate departure from Illinois announced this month, after Boeing and Caterpillar trumpeted moves to Virginia and Texas, respectively.

Why it matters: Citadel employs more than 1,000 people in the area, and Griffin plays an influential role in local politics and philanthropy.

  • Plus, an exodus of companies from the state can hurt tax coffers and the local economy.

The impact: "Losing Citadel is a punch in the gut to the city's economic reputation," Civic Federation president Laurence Msall told Crain's.

  • "Over the past decade, the firms' principals and employees have driven billions of dollars in tax revenue to Illinois and Chicago," Citadel spokesperson Zia Ahmed tells Axios. "In Chicago alone, Ken has donated more than $600 million to educational, cultural, medical and civic organizations."

Context: The firm will maintain an office in downtown Chicago and in 17 other global cities.

What he's saying: "Miami is a vibrant, growing metropolis that embodies the American Dream," Griffin wrote in an email to Citadel staff.

The intrigue: Griffin has poured millions of dollars into local political campaigns, and his candidates could be facing a rough primary tomorrow.

Yes, but: The hedge fund founder had already publicly mulled leaving Chicago, citing local violence.

  • "The firms are having difficulty recruiting top talent from across the world to Chicago given the rising and senseless violence in the city," Ahmed says.
  • "Talent wants to live in cities where they feel safe."

The other side: The Chicago area still leads the nation in corporate relocations.

What they're saying: "We will continue to welcome those businesses and support emerging industries that are already creating good jobs and investing billions in Illinois, like data centers, electric vehicles and quantum computing," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement.

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