Rail car company TTX pulls headquarters out of Chicago

The company plans to set roots in Charlotte, North Carolina, where it will create 150 jobs, said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.

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TTX plans to move its headquarters from Chicago to Charlotte, North Carolina. The company manages 170,000 freight cars for major U.S. railroads.

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TTX, which provides freight cars for major railroads, is moving its headquarters from Chicago to Charlotte, North Carolina, where it has promised to create 150 jobs.

The headquarters loss for Chicago follows similar moves by companies that include Caterpillar, Citadel and Tyson Foods. Boeing also moved its headquarters away, though it said later that most of its Chicago staff stayed put.

Meanwhile, Chicago has picked up major investments from corporations such as Kellogg, Deere & Co. and Kimberly-Clark. And Allstate and Abbott Laboratories have moved jobs into the city from the suburbs.

Any corporate exit from Chicago causes speculation about crime and taxes, especially after Citadel boss Ken Griffin decamped for Miami, where his hedge fund plans an office tower. Griffin had been critical of crime and tax policies in the Chicago area.

Asked about TTX’s reasons for the move, Brian Powers, the company’s chief human resources officer, declined to criticize Chicago, saying: “We’ve been in Chicago for over 50 years. Taking all factors in consideration, North Carolina and Charlotte have a more business-friendly environment.”

Announcing the deal, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s office said TTX will invest $14.5 million and set up operations in functions that include finance, information technology and business and product development. North Carolina officials have agreed to give the company as much as $1.8 million in tax subsidies over the next 12 years.

TTX has been based at 101 N. Wacker Dr., occupying about 100,000 square feet. In 2020, it offered the entire space for sublease just as the coronavirus pandemic was keeping most office workers at home.

Powers said TTX had about 280 headquarters employees, many of them working remotely. He said that a large number will stay in Chicago and that TTX hopes to have 150 working in Charlotte within a couple of years.

He estimated that TTX has 500 employees in the Chicago area, most who will remain because they are assigned to rail yards.

Powers said the company expects to take possession of its new location in June 2024. He said TTX “did not engage” with Illinois government officials about incentives for staying.

TTX was founded in 1955 and operates as a co-op for the nation’s leading railroads. It manages 170,000 railcars.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity had no comment.

“We believe Charlotte presents a unique opportunity for TTX that provides for strategic partnerships to strengthen our business,” Thomas Wells, TTX’s president and chief executive officer, said in a written statement.

The North Carolina tax subsidy is a grant based on projected growth in tax revenue from the new jobs. Cooper’s office said the average annual salary for the positions to be created will be $162,000 — twice the average rate for the Charlotte region.

According to North Carolina’s Commerce Department, the grants are “awarded only in competitive recruitment or retention situations.”

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