Big companies keep leaving Chicago. What’s going on?


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CNN business

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

The poultry producer announced Wednesday that it is bringing its corporate employees together 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. Around 1,000 employees work in the three offices and will start moving early next year.

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

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Tyson’s move deals another blow to Chicago’s image. McDonald’s, which has its headquarters there, has criticized the city for crime. CEO Chris Kemczinski recently said that crime is “percolating into every corner of our city,” and he said he’s 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 in our restaurants,” he said at the Economic Club of Chicago last month. “So we see in our restaurants every day what is happening in society as a whole.”

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

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McDonald’s said it’s staying in Chicago, but other companies leaving the city have been less willing to give their reasons. In an email to CNN, Tyson said the move from Chicago had nothing to do with crime.

Boeing (BA) said in May it would leave Chicago for Washington, DC. The company did not blame crime. Analysts said the change signals the company has lost the commercial race to Airbus and wants to be seen primarily as a defense and space company. Boeing (BA) was based in Seattle from its inception 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 grains and plant-based food companies will be headquartered in Chicago.

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Tyson has had a difficult year due to inflation. Recently, it was said that “demand for chicken is extremely strong,” while demand for the higher-priced cuts of beef has waned. The average retail price for chicken rose last 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 switching between meat types due to inflation. The company plans to launch new lower-priced options and also add new larger pack sizes for consumers looking for value. Tyson’s shares are down about 25% for the year.

– Nathaniel Meyersohn of CNN Business contributed to this report.

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