Big Companies Keep Leaving Chicago. What’s Going On?

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Tyson Foods is the latest company closing its Chicago offices, joining Boeing, Caterpillar and Citadel among others, reports CNN.

Unlocking greater opportunities

The poultry producer said Wednesday that it’s bringing together its corporate employees at its global headquarters in Arkansas, resulting in the closure of three offices, including downtown Chicago, Downers Grove, Illinois, and Dakota Dunes in South Dakota. Roughly 1,000 employees work in the three offices and will begin relocation in early next year.

“Bringing our talented corporate team members and businesses together under one roof unlocks greater opportunities to share perspectives and ideas, while also enabling us to act quickly to solve problems and provide the innovative products solutions that our customers deserve and value,” said CEO Donnie King in a release.

Crime rate

Tyson’s move serves another blow for Chicago’s image. McDonald’s, which has its headquarters there, criticized the city for crime. CEO Chris Kempczinski recently said that crime is “seeping into every corner of our city” and he said that he’s frequently asked “what’s going on in Chicago?”

“We have violent crime that’s happening in our restaurants … we’re seeing homelessness issues in our restaurants. We’re having drug overdoses that are happening in our restaurants,” he said last month at the Economic Club of Chicago. “So we see in our restaurants, every single day, what’s happening in society at large.”

He said it’s difficult to recruit people to work at the company’s headquarters, noting: “One of the things that I hear from our employees [is] … ‘I’m not sure it’s safe to come downtown.’”

McDonald’s said it’s staying in Chicago, but other companies that are leaving the city have been less forthcoming about their reasons. In an email to CNN, Tyson said the move out of Chicago was not related to crime.

The commercial race

Boeing (BA) said in May it was leaving Chicago for Washington, DC, The company didn’t blame crime. Analysts said the change signaled it has lost the commercial race to Airbus and wants to be seen as primarily a defense and space contractor. Boeing (BA) used to be based in Seattle from its founding in 1916 to 2001.

Caterpillar and Citadel also recently announced moves out of Chicago to different locations outside Illinois.

However, Kellogg said in June that its newly formed cereal and plant-based food companies will be headquartered in Chicago.

Inflation

Tyson has had a rocky year because of inflation. It recently said that “demand for chicken is extremely strong,” while demand for its higher-priced cuts of beef has softened. Average sales price for chicken grew during its latest quarter, while the average price for beef and pork fell as consumers balked at some premium cuts.

Consumer demand for meat remained strong, Tyson said, but consumers are shifting between meats because of inflation. The company plans to launch new lower-priced options and also add new larger package sizes for consumers searching for value. Shares of Tyson are down about 25% for the year.

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Source: CNN

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