Chicago Growing, December 2011


This month, Sara Lee Corporation announced that it would move its North American headquarters for its meats company to downtown Chicago, another example of the strong trend of companies choosing to move their offices from the suburbs to the city. At its new headquarters, the company will locate at least 500, and up to 650, total jobs. The company noted being “in the heart of one of the world’s business capitals” and the city’s ability to foster “creative and innovative culture” as key reasons for choosing to move downtown.
Sara Lee’s new facility, located at 400 S. Jefferson Street, will have high sustainability standards with LEED certification. The company is investing significant funds into its headquarters, and will receive TIF funding approved by the City’s Community Development Commission this month.

In addition to Sara Lee, many other companies have grown in Chicago this quarter. Here is a sample of some of recent growth in the city since September:

  • Adage Technologies, a web development company, will expand to 8,000 square feet at 10 S. Riverside Plaza.
  • Ahead, a data center consultancy firm headquartered in Chicago, announced a $5 million expansion of its in-house cloud lab to educate clients on virtualization, storage, cloud and network technologies for data centers.
  • The Black Wall Street USA national team announced the opening of a new Midwest regional office at 4655 South King Dr.
  • bswift, a human resources software firm, moved into 25,000 square feet at 10 S. Riverside, more than tripling its office space.
  • Braintree Inc., a software firm that helps companies process credit-card payments, announced plans to double its headcount from about 32 employees this year.
  • Chicago Taxi Medallion Management purchased 105,000 square feet on 3.75 acres at 5353 W. Armstrong to accommodate its growing fleet of more than 500 city cabs.
  • China Telecom Americas, a provider of data, IP and voice wholesale services to organizations requiring China domestic services, opened a new full-service office in Chicago.
  • Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial real estate company, completed a 40,000-square-foot lease at 200 South Wacker Dr. to accommodate its continued growth.
  • Dacheng, China’s largest firm by lawyer headcount, announced the opening of its Chicago office.
  • Digital Assent, a provider of self-service patient check-in and education solutions, announced the opening of its Chicago office.
  • The Dow Chemical Company, a global leader in specialty chemicals, announced that it will relocate approximately 400 jobs to a new Dow sales center downtown over the next three years.
  • Edelman, a Chicago-based public relations firm, is expanding its global headquarters office in the Aon Center by 26%.
  • Ernst & Young LLP, a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services, announced the company will hire 500 new workers in Chicago, boosting its local workforce 25%.
  • Ford Motor Co.’s Chicago assembly plant will add a third shift and at least 1,100 jobs.
  • Freedman Seating Co., which makes seats for buses and trucks, plans a 170,000-square-foot expansion of its headquarters and factory at 4545 W. Augusta Blvd., where it employs 530 people.
  • GE Capital, the financial services arm of General Electric Co., has renewed its lease at 500 W. Monroe St. in a deal that expands its space by 20%, to about 370,000 square feet.
  • Grant Thornton LLP, an accounting firm headquartered in Chicago, announced it is planning to hire nearly 140 full-time professionals, an increase of 40%.
  • Gravitas, a leading co-sourcing platform and consultant for the financial services industries, has expanded into the Midwest with the formation of Gravitas Chicago, located at 219 W. Chicago Ave.
  • GrubHub, a web and mobile service, has raised $50 million in Series E funding to aggressively focus on its mobile development and acquire New York-based Dotmenu.
  • HKS Inc., an architecture firm that is expanding into the health care market, aims to triple its staff in its new Chicago office at 111 W. Washington St.
  • J. P. Morgan Chase & Co., a leading financial services firm, announced it will hire 400 workers to help staff its downtown Chicago office, in addition to more than 400 positions Chase announced in August.
  • kCura, a rapidly expanding local software developer, doubled its space, moving its offices to 231 S. LaSalle St.
  • Lawson Products Inc., a distributor of maintenance and repair supplies based in Des Plaines, announced it will move its headquarters to 8770 Bryn Mawr Ave. in Chicago, where it has signed a lease for more than 86,000 square feet.
  • Load Delivered Logistics, a Chicago-based logistics company, announced its expansion into an additional 5,000 square feet at 750 N. Orleans to accommodate recent growth.
  • Merge Healthcare, a health information IT company, will add 200 jobs in Chicago within the next two years; the company will also will provide 100 medical kiosks to be placed throughout the city.
  • The Onion, the satirical newspaper, will move its 20-person editorial staff from New York to its corporate headquarters in Chicago’s River North neighborhood.
  • Oxford Global Resources, a consulting firm specializing in technology and engineering, announced the opening of its new office 120 N. LaSalle.
  • Peak6  Investments, a hedge fund, mutual fund, proprietary trading firm and online brokerage, is upgrading  its office in the Chicago Board of Trade building, while adding new positions.
  • Peerless Network, Inc., a provider of enterprise telecommunications and carrier interconnection services, announced its lease of a new, 12,600-square-foot data center facility at 840 S. Canal St. that will be used to accommodate its network growth.
  • Publicis Worldwide, a global advertising company, doubled its space 111 E. Wacker Dr. to 66,000 square feet, which will house the company’s Performics online search marketing firm and ZenithOptimedia research unit.
  • Savo Group, a local cloud-based software firm, is more than doubling its space in a move to 42,303 square feet on two floors at 155 N. Wacker Dr.
  • Seaton Corp., a Chicago-based staffing company announced it would add 400 jobs at its Clybourn Corridor headquarters over the next year.
  • SMS Assist, a company that handles maintenance outsourcing, almost quadrupled its office space, in moving to 41,000 square feet at the John Hancock Center.
  • Uber, a San Francisco-based startup that connects consumers with private car service, has launched in Chicago with 40 drivers.
  • Valspar Corp., a paint company, expanded its space by almost 50% at an office complex near O’Hare, bringing its total space to 58,000 square feet.

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