DOWNTOWN — Billionaire Ken Griffin is moving to Miami and taking his business with him, leaving Chicago after more than three decades.
The head of Chicago-based hedge fund Citadel told staff in a recent memo that he was moving the company’s headquarters and its associated securities division to Miami. About 300 employees are expected to occupy the new Miami office in that city’s financial district within about a year, according to a company spokesperson.
“Miami is a vibrant, growing metropolis that embodies the American Dream – embracing the possibilities of what can be achieved by a community working to build a future together,” Griffin wrote.
The company won’t completely lose its footprint in Chicago as it plans to maintain an office at 131 S. Dearborn St. The company employs 1,000 people in Illinois.
“Chicago will continue to be important to the future of Citadel, as many of our colleagues have deep ties to Illinois,” Griffin explained in his memo. “Over the past year, however, many of our Chicago teams have requested relocations to Miami, New York and our other offices around the world.”
Citadel has 16 offices around the world.
Griffin didn’t share any negative comments about Chicago or Illinois in his announcement, but previously cited the rise in crime and violence in the city as one of the many reasons he was considering moving the company. One such instance occurred in October, at a talk at the Economic Club of Chicago, where he compared Chicago to Afghanistan “on a good day,” echoing a talking point from the former president. Donald Trump.
According to additional information provided by Citadel, other factors influencing Griffin’s decision include the stabbing of a Citadel employee a block from the office, an attempted carjacking of Griffin’s car, and “shootings by mass, riots and looting just blocks from Griffin’ in Gold Coast.
Griffin started Citadel in Chicago in 1990 after graduating from Harvard University.
The announcement comes as no surprise to Mayor Lori Lightfoot, whose spokesperson said Citadel management had “flagged for some time” a move to Florida.
“While this announcement comes as no surprise, it is still disappointing,” read a statement from the mayor’s office. “We thank the Citadelle team for their contributions to our city and their many philanthropic commitments, particularly around education, arts and culture and public safety. We know that Citadel will maintain a significant presence in Chicago and their story would not be possible without the great strengths of our city.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez took to Twitter to celebrate the announcement of welcoming Griffin, whom he said he could “now officially call a Miamian.”
The relocation is the latest in a saga of companies leaving the Chicago area for other states.
Boeing announced in May that the company would move its headquarters to Arlington, Va., after 21 years in Chicago. Caterpillar, based in suburban Deerfield, announced earlier this month that it would be moving its headquarters to Irving, Texas.
The addition of two major corporations, Kellogg and Abbott, to the city’s economy could help offset Citadel’s absence. Kellogg announced earlier this week plans to split into three companies, including one based in Chicago. Abbott, a healthcare company, leases more than 100,000 square feet inside the Willis Tower, according to Crain’s.
Moving to Florida will be something of a homecoming for Griffin, who was born in Daytona Beach and spent most of his childhood in Boca Raton.
Over the past 30 years in Chicago, Griffin has donated more than $600 million to various educational, cultural, medical and civic organizations, his rep said. A Citadel spokesperson said it would donate an additional $100 million in the coming days, but it has not yet been announced who will receive the donations.
He has also made significant donations to local political causes and candidates. He has donated nearly $50 million to a group opposed to a progressive income tax in Illinois, fighting fellow billionaire — Governor JB Pritzker — on opposing sides of that issue. Illinois voters rejected the state’s move to a progressive income tax in the 2020 election.
More recently, Griffin also made a significant donation to Richard Irvin’s gubernatorial bid, contributing $50 million to a GOP slate of candidates led by Aurora’s mayor. Irvin is a six-man battle for the Republican nomination vying to unseat Pritzker. Illinois’ primary election is Tuesday.
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