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Tractor pull: Tech talent draws Deere to new Fulton Market office

The Moline-based company plans to open the office next year, hiring 150 people initially at 800 W. Fulton Market.

A rendering of an office building at 800 W. Fulton Market.
Deere plans to open an office at 800 W. Fulton Market in 2022.
Dave Burk/Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Needing access to Chicago’s base of technology workers, tractor and construction equipment maker Deere said Monday it will open an office in the Fulton Market neighborhood next year.

It said it plans to hire 150 people for the office within the next two years, with ultimate plans for 300 workers there. In exchange, it’s gotten a state tax incentive worth an estimated $4.9 million over the next 10 years.

The announcement drew recognition from Gov. J.B. Pritzker and marked a continuation of a leasing trend that has survived the pandemic. Numerous companies are moving to or expanding in Fulton Market or the broader West Loop, drawn to a new generation of office buildings in a setting popular with younger tech workers.

Research by the real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle found that 57% of downtown office leases of at least 10,000 square feet signed during the third quarter were in Fulton Market or at the Old Post Office, 433 W. Van Buren St.

Deere has leased 35,000 square feet at 800 W. Fulton Market, a 472,000-square-foot building whose largest tenant is the headquarters of Aspen Dental Management.

The Moline-based company, known by its John Deere brand name, said it expects to be in the space by early fall of 2022. It said the office will be involved in e-commerce and cloud and data analytics.

“John Deere’s new technology center in Chicago is just one example of the innovation and investment Illinois is inspiring with our top-tier talent and world-class infrastructure,” Pritzker said in a statement circulated by the company. He said the expansion will “help Illinois continue its long-standing tradition of being at the center of breakthrough discoveries in agricultural and construction technology.”

Andrez Carberry, global human resources director at Deere, said the company’s “smart industrial strategy” calls for recruiting workers with diverse technology skills. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to be expanding our footprint into downtown Chicago,” Carberry said.

The tax credits come under the state’s Edge program for companies promising new jobs. It lets them deduct 50% of the state income tax attributable to the new jobs.

Employers are designing office space with COVID-19 in mind. Deere said the Chicago office will allow “the flexibility of in-person collaboration” in case employees prefer to work remotely.