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Braintree says it will expand, add 150 jobs in Chicago

Mayor Rahm Emanuel met with employees Braintree 111 N. Canal St. discussed job growth city’s “technology economy.”  | Rich

Mayor Rahm Emanuel met with employees of Braintree, 111 N. Canal St., and discussed job growth and the city’s “technology economy.” | Rich Hein~Sun-Timess

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Updated: September 1, 2012 6:14AM

Braintree, a provider of online payment systems, said Monday it plans to triple the staff of its Chicago-based headquarters within the next two to three years.

In an announcement orchestrated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office, Braintree said it expects to add about 150 workers at 111 N. Canal. A company spokeswoman said the downtown office currently has about 70 workers.

Braintree also has an office in Silicon Valley, the California hub for technology firms. Executives said expanding in Chicago makes sense because of its available workers and the access the city provides to global customers.

At a news conference Monday at Braintree’s new Chicago headquarters at 111 N. Canal, Emanuel compared the burgeoning technology company to the one that got away.

“Ten years ago, PayPal was started here in Chicago [by a] graduate from the University of Illinois. [They] did not think they could make it as a company, so they went to the coast,” the mayor said.

“Ten years later, a similar company — online payment system Braintree — they put their roots down here in Chicago and they’re doubling down with another 150 jobs because they see the talent and the capacity to grow here. And Accel [Partners] did well — not just with Groupon, but an early investor here with Braintree — they see the tech company, the tech skills and the capacity to grow and do well for their investors and do well for companies here in Chicago.”

The mayor added, “Ten years ago, Braintree could not have succeeded in Chicago. . . . [Today], they have the quality of work force, the quality of life and the innovation that allows them to grow here.”

Bryan Johnson said he founded Braintree after coming here seven years ago to attend the University of Chicago’s prestigious Booth School of Business.

“At the time, Chicago’s technology community was in its nascent state. I met a few people like Chuck Templeton from Open Table. But it was in a very early stage,” he said. “Today, compared to five years ago, we’ve come a tremendous ways. You have all kinds of great technology companies starting and thriving here in Chicago.”

On Monday, Emanuel also disclosed plans by the accounting firm Reznick Group to relocate its Midwest headquarters from Skokie to Chicago in the next 12 months. The company also is expanding its payroll, with plans to increase its work force from 65 currently to at least 150 by the end of 2015.

A spokesman said Reznick plans to relocate from 4711 W. Golf Road in Skokie. He said a lease for a downtown office is being negotiated.

Reznick said that after a pending merger, it will be the 11th largest accounting firm in the country.

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