Citadel says it will move its offices to Miami due to crime in Chicago

Hedge fund Citadel and trading firm Citadel Securities, both run by billionaire Ken Griffin, are moving their offices to Miami after more than three decades in Chicago, according to a memo to employees obtained by The New York Times on Thursday.

The move follows heightened tensions between Mr. Griffin and Governor JB Pritzker of Illinois, a Democrat, over the city’s taxes and crime rate. (Florida is one of the few states that does not have a state income tax.) And it comes as the rise of remote work during the coronavirus pandemic has allowed companies to move their offices more freely in search of a lower-tax, more affordable location. labor or other potential advantages. In recent months, Caterpillar said it would move its office from Illinois to Texas, and Boeing has said it will move from Illinois to Virginia. Kellogg, on the other hand, said this week that it would move its corporate headquarters from Battle Creek, Michigan, to Chicago.

“Companies are having a hard time recruiting top talent from around the world in Chicago given the escalating and senseless violence in the city,” said Zia Ahmed, a Citadel spokesperson. “Talent wants to live in cities where they feel safe.”

While not a direct comparison, Miami Dade County reported 30 homicide offenses this year through May, up from 48 for the same period last year.

Mr. Griffin has been threatening to move the Citadel headquarters for years, citing concerns about local crime. At a recent DealBook conference, he told the story of a Citadel partner who was accosted outside his home with a gun to his head. He said that when he raised the issue with Governor Pritzker, he “seized the moment to call me a liar.”

“I’m going to make sure that if he does run again, I’m willing to support the candidate who will beat him. He does not deserve to be governor of our state,” Griffin said.

He said keeping the Citadel in Chicago “comes down to whether or not we’re willing to adopt the policies in Chicago that we need to keep people safe.”

A spokeswoman for Gov. Pritzker, Emily Bittner, noted Kellogg’s announcement, saying the administration was supportive of “emerging industries that are already creating good jobs and investing billions in Illinois, such as data centers, electric vehicles and quantum computing.”

“We continue to lead the nation in corporate relocations and had a record number of new businesses in the last year,” said Ms. Bittner.

A spokesperson for Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago said in a statement: “The leadership of the citadel has been signaling for some time a greater presence in Florida, and while this announcement is not surprising, it remains disappointing.” She added, “We thank the Citadel team for their contributions to our city and their many philanthropic commitments.”

Mr. Ahmed, the Citadel spokesman, said: “In Chicago alone, Ken has donated more than $600 million to educational, cultural, medical and civic organizations.”

Mr. Griffin has donated approximately $21.5 million through March to groups supporting the election of Republican candidates across the country during the 2022 election cycle, according to Open Secrets. He is one of the biggest supporters of Republican Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, according to Open Secrets.

Mr. Griffin founded Citadel in Chicago in 1990 and, with his partners, Citadel Securities in 2002. Combined, the two companies employ more than 1,000 people in Illinois. Globally, they employ 4,000 professionals in 17 offices.

Citadel told employees that the company’s new headquarters would be in Brickell, Miami’s financial district, and that the move was expected to take several years. Some Citadel Securities employees have already started working in temporary offices in the city, with Citadel employees soon to follow.

Mr. Griffin, who was born in Daytona Beach, Fla., and grew up in Boca Raton, Fla., will also be moving to Miami.

In the memo to employees, he recalled the welcome he received in Chicago when he started his company. “I still remember the incredible pride and civic engagement when I arrived more than 30 years ago, and the outreach of business and political leaders who wanted us to succeed and be part of the fabric of the Chicago community,” he wrote.

The announcement was celebrated by Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who offered Mr. Griffin a “warm welcome to Miami.” Mr. Suarez has courted big business since his election in November 2017, with many businesses taking advantage of Florida’s lack of state and local income taxes. Among those that have changed offices are hedge fund Elliott Management and private equity firm black stone

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