Tyson to move corporate employees out of Chicago

Based in Springdale, Ark., Tyson is also relocating employees from its location in Dakota Dunes, SD. About 1,000 employees will be relocated between the three affected offices, spokesman Derek Burleson said in an email. As of October 2, 2021, the company employed a total of 137,000 people.

The move is another achievement for Chicago, where earlier this year Citadel, Boeing and Caterpillar announced they would move their corporate headquarters out of the area. Such departures have fueled discourse between city officials and business leaders like McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski. He railed against Chicago’s crime problems last month, saying these corporate exits are bad news for the city, regardless of the reasons behind them. Team Lightfoot hit back, saying 173 companies moved to or expanded in the city last year.

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Tyson’s presence in Chicago is tied to the Hillshire Brands acquisition in 2014. The meat company paid nearly $8 billion for Hillshire. Tyson retained Hillshire’s research and development facility in Downers Grove and took over its Chicago office in the West Loop.

Tyson was founded in 1935. It also has a steak-cutting facility in Chicago that employed 240 people as of 2020.

Though several high-profile corporate headquarters are about to leave town, a dollar-leaving innovation hub is a trend. Chicago has become a destination for such facilities in recent years. About a dozen companies have opened innovation centers here since 2016. This trend boosts the local startup economy and spurs research and development activities.

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However, some companies prefer to locate their research and development activities closer to the C-suite. For example, McDonald’s announced last month that it would be moving about 120 employees from its innovation center in Romeoville to a new innovation lab at its West Loop headquarters.

Tyson, which has also announced the expansion of its headquarters, is hoping to work more closely with the move, CEO Donnie King said in the release.

“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,” he said.

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Overall, the Chicago-area food and beverage industry is one of the largest in the country, generating $9.4 billion annually and employing 65,000 people, World Business Chicago CEO Michael Fassnacht said in a statement. He pointed out that Kellogg, Mars Wrigley and other food companies “have made big bets on the infrastructure of the Chicago area.”

“While we are disappointed to learn of this decision, we expect the company will continue to access businesses in our food and agriculture ecosystem and route vital supplies and products through the region’s vast transportation network,” he said. “We are in active discussions with other notable food and beverage companies who will soon be announcing moves and expansions in Chicago.”

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