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Business

Big companies continue to leave Chicago. What’s up?





New York
CNN Business

Tyson Foods is the latest company to close its Chicago offices, joining the likes of Boeing, Caterpillar and Citadel.

The poultry producer said Wednesday it is consolidating its corporate workforce at its global headquarters in Arkansas, resulting in the closing of three offices, including downtown Chicago, Downers Grove, Illinois, and Dakota Dunes, South Dakota. Around 1,000 employees work in the three offices and will begin moving early next year.

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

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

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

He said recruiting people to work at corporate headquarters is difficult, noting, “One of the things 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 leaving the city have been less forthcoming about their reasons. In an email to CNN, Tyson said the move from Chicago was not related to crime.

Boeing ( BA ) said in May it would leave Chicago for Washington, DC. The company did not blame crime. Analysts said the change signaled it has lost the commercial race to Airbus and wants to be seen primarily as a defense and aerospace contractor. Boeing ( BA ) used to be based in Seattle from its founding in 1916 until 2001.

Caterpillar and Citadel also recently announced relocations from Chicago to various locations outside of Illinois.

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

Tyson has had a difficult year due to inflation. It recently said that “demand for chicken is extremely strong”, while demand for more expensive cuts of meat has softened. The average selling price of chicken grew during the last quarter, while the average price of 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 due to inflation. The company plans to launch new cheaper options and also add new larger pack sizes for consumers looking for value. Shares in Tyson are down around 25% for the year.

— CNN Business’ Nathaniel Meyersohn contributed to this report.



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