With its roots deepening in the Chicago economy, Google on Thursday officially opened its second office in the city’s Fulton Market area and announced a partnership with City Hall to bring digital skills to neighborhood-based businesses.
The company hosted Gov. J.B. Pritzker for its celebration. A leading funder of tech companies before getting elected, Pritzker offered a unique endorsement of the tech giant. “I’d like heretofore to be known as Gov. Google,” he said.
Pritzker said the internet services company’s expansion certifies the Chicago area has appeal for tech employers. “It’s a prideful day in Chicago and Illinois,” Pritzker said. “We think of Google as a Chicago-based company.”
The governor, who in 2012 founded the 1871 tech hub, also was reveling in news that his creation was named the top business incubator in the world at the World Incubation Summit in Doha, Qatar. From its base in the Merchandise Mart, 1871 is home to 450 member companies and has reported launching businesses that have created more than 11,200 jobs.
With its new office at 210 N. Carpenter St., Google now reports a Chicago-based workforce of 1,200 people, up from 600 when it moved into a gut-rehabbed former cold storage facility at 1000 W. Fulton Market in 2015. From a two-person sales office in 2000, Google’s Chicago presence has grown to include engineers and support for cloud computing.
Pritzker said the tech sector is the fastest growing part of the Chicago economy and employs 143,000 people here. “We boast one of the largest tech talent pools in the United States,” he said. “Tech companies occupy almost 14 million square feet of office space in Chicago alone.”
Google leases both of its spaces here from developer Sterling Bay and talk has circulated in real estate circles for months that Google is primed for additional expansion here. Sterling Bay plans additional office buildings at 345 N. Morgan St. and 1000 W. Carroll Ave., both close to Google’s exisiting spaces. A spokeswoman for the developer declined to comment.
Karen Sauder, Chicago site lead for Google, refused to speculate on what’s ahead but noted the company, which has built out four floors at 210 N. Carpenter St., can expand into two more floors there. “We’ve got 75 open jobs in the cloud team alone in Chicago. There will be growth,” she said.
Pritzker praised Google for its willingness to support local causes. “As tech develops and vaults us into the future, Google knows that we cannot leave any of our communities behind,” he said.
Sauder said Google will assign staff to work with neighborhood associations and chambers of commerce to bring digital training to entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Earlier this year, it divided $1 million in a Shark Tank-style competition among 10 nonprofits with ideas for spurring economic growth. In 2017, it joined with Chance the Rapper to announce a $1.5 million grant to support computer science instruction at Chicago Public Schools and Chance’s nonprofit, SocialWorks.