Motorola Solutions is moving its global headquarters from Schaumburg to Chicago, a “homecoming” that will bring 800 jobs and tons of momentum to a city aiming to sell itself as the high-tech hub of the Midwest.
The new headquarters for a company that provides “mission-critical communications solutions” for public safety and commercial customers will be located on six floors and 150,000 square feet of space at an office building at 500 W. Monroe.
That’s within walking distance of commuter rail stations and helps to explain why no financial incentives or tax-increment-financing subsidies were required.
The global headquarters will include the company’s customer briefing center, as well as its ventures group, chief technology office, information technology and software engineering areas.
Motorola Solutions also has an Americas sales headquarters at 224 S. Michigan Ave., which will be maintained at that location, where it has about 300 employees in 46,000 square feet.
The company will continue to have a “significant presence” — about 1,600 employees — in Schaumburg. Unused land on the company’s 277-acre suburban campus will be sold for redevelopment.
At a news conference at the now-empty and soon-to-be-renovated office space, Mayor Rahm Emanuel welcomed Motorola Solutions “home” to the city where the company was founded in 1928 on Harrison Street.
The mayor touted Chicago’s gain — at Schaumburg’s expense — as a major milestone in his efforts to promote Chicago as a high-tech hub and a Midwest version of Silicon Valley.
“It’s not just another corporate headquarters. Both its research development, its IT, its venture capital will also be moving. So, while we have announced 34 other companies moving their headquarters, given all of the other divisions, it is a strengthening of Chicago’s tech presence in a way that we have not had,” Emanuel said.
“They’ve talked about that ecosystem — drawing on our universities, drawing on our quality of life, drawing on fellow companies and start-ups at 1871 — and creating that platform. Motorola Solutions adds to that effort in a dramatic way. So, it’s not just the corporate suite . . . This is a real addition to Chicago’s presence and footprint in technology.”
Greg Brown, chairman and CEO of Motorola Solutions, said the move to Chicago made sense, even with an impending, $500 million property tax increase to shore up police and fire pensions.
“This move is more about innovation. Innovative software solutions will play a critical role in our future. And this location will help us attract talent that’s critical to the Motorola Solutions of tomorrow,” Brown said.
“The high-tech talent we need to recruit, such as data scientists, user experience designers, interface designers, software application engineers, they’re located here. And this building is just steps from the major train stations and a few blocks from the city train stops which will be important to our people.”
Brown billed the move an “important step in our company’s transformation” and said it “positions us to succeed and thrive” in the future.
“We’re excited to locate our global headquarters downtown in a vibrant business and academic hub. When I look at all of the other Fortune 500 companies, the start-up businesses, the great work around 1871 and the university campuses that are located here in this city, it’s clear that Chicago is where we need to be,” he said.
Brown said it’s no small thing that the “customer briefing center” will be located in Chicago. That’s where Motorola Solutions brings its clients, commercial customers, CEOs, chief information officers and foreign leaders, to showcase its products.
“That, in my view, will have more people come get briefed on our products than normal. It is easier to convince people to come to the city of Chicago than make a trek out to the suburbs,” he said.
“That’s no disrespect intended for anybody. But having the nucleus of talent — not just corporate, but software development, high-tech and innovation — here in this facility will galvanize a higher load of customers that get received here in Chicago. They oftentimes visit the emergency command center in Chicago. But then, they trek an hour out to Schaumburg to see our products. We’ll be able to do a better job hosting, showcasing and ultimately selling prospective domestic and international customers.”
Three years ago, cell phone maker Motorola Mobility announced plans to move 3,000 employees from north suburban Libertyville to Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.
Emanuel called it a “game-changer” and proclaimed Chicago the high-tech hub of the Midwest, then swallowed hard as Google cut 4,000 jobs worldwide, 750 of them at Motorola Mobility.
The mayor’s high-tech dreams suffered another blow last month when Motorola Mobility cut 500 jobs and 25 percent of its workforce here.
That’s apparently why Brown was so quick to draw the line between the two companies.
“Merchandise Mart is the other part of Motorola. We spun it. Got out of the smart-phone cell phone business, which I would maintain was a good decision,” Brown said as his co-workers and the mayor laughed.