ADM chief: Chicago emerged as ‘best location’ for global headquarters

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SPRINGFIELD-Archer Daniels Midland Co. made it official Wednesday morning and confirmed it has chosen Chicago to the site of its new global headquarters and customer center without any state tax incentives, a move Gov. Pat Quinn hailed as “great news for Illinois and our economy.”

“While we considered other global hubs, Chicago emerged as the best location to provide efficient access to global markets while maintaining our close connections with U.S. farmers, customers and operations,” ADM Chairman and CEO Patricia Woertz said in a prepared statement.

“Chicago also provides an environment where we can attract and retain employees with diverse skills, and where their family members can find ample career opportunities,” she said.

The agribusiness giant indicated it would employ about 50 to 75 executives in its new headquarters. The company said it is now considering “alternative sites” for a technology center that was to have been part of the complex will and will employ about 100 people.

In its statement, ADM said it would consider locations in “several states” and would make its decision on the information technology center by the middle of next year.

The company acknowledged dumping its request for $24 million in state subsidies that it had sought from the Quinn administration because “that plan could not be realized within ADM’s timeframe.” Legislation backing ADM’s request passed the Senate but stalled in the House earlier this month.

“We decided to move forward in the way that best meets our organizational objectives,” Woertz said.

She said there will be no layoffs at its Decatur headquarters as a result of opening a global hub in Chicago and insisted ADM would maintain “a significant presence” in the east-central Illinois community.

ADM offered no clue in its statement Wednesday about where it intends to locate its new offices in Chicago.

“We look forward to finalizing the selection of a site in Chicago soon, and to accelerating the selection of a suitable location for our IT center,” Woertz said.

Quinn, meanwhile, praised the company for staying put in what amounts to a public-relations coup for him as he enters his 2014 reelection bid. Had ADM gone out of state, it would have represented a bitter defeat that would have enabled GOP rivals to argue Illinois’ business climate has been unfriendly under Quinn.

“ADM’s decision to establish a world headquarters in Chicago is great news for Illinois and our economy,” the governor said in a prepared statement.

The governor said he spoke with Woertz “several times over the past week and made clear that there is no better place to do business than Illinois.

“ADM’s long-term commitment to Chicago, Decatur and our entire state demonstrates its own faith in its future here,” the governor said.

The fact the company stayed within Illinois’ borders didn’t stop at least one of Quinn’s gubernatorial rivals from criticizing him for not doing more to force ADM to beef up its Decatur workforce as part of the Senate-passed legislation that stalled in the House.

“Despite the warning signs, Gov. Quinn ignored the call for a special session and turned his back on downstate,” said state Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, one of four Republicans running for governor.

“I’m glad that ADM will stay in Illinois, but not passing that economic incentive is a huge missed opportunity. The incentive would have kept jobs in Decatur and created new jobs there over the next five years,” Brady said. “Unfortunately, foot-dragging by the governor and the House means there is no guarantee we will see job growth in Decatur.”

The Senate deal would have granted ADM the incentives it was looking for from Springfield but required the company to maintain 200 full-time employees at its Decatur headquarters, pull in 100 ADM employees to Decatur from elsewhere in the company and pledge that it hire at least 100 new employees every year for five years at the Decatur complex.

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