suntimes
DRAFTY 
Weather Updates

ADM moving headquarters — and Chicago is top contender

Archer Daniels MidlCo. (ADM) plant headquarters are shown Decatur Ill. 2001. | Sun-Times files

Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) plant and headquarters are shown in Decatur, Ill. in 2001. | Sun-Times files

storyidforme: 55453095
tmspicid: 8852603
fileheaderid: 3998142

Updated: October 25, 2013 6:15AM



Archer Daniels Midland Co. is moving its global headquarters, customer center and 100 top executives out of Decatur to a more accessible location, and Chicago is the front-runner, sources said Monday.

“Our company is growing and becoming more global and more customer-centric,” Patricia Woertz, ADM chairman and chief executive officer was quoted as saying in a press release announcing the surprise move.

“To continue to succeed, we need a global center in a location that allows us to travel and work efficiently with customers and employees throughout the world,” Woertz said. “We also need an environment where we can attract and retain employees with diverse skills, and where family members can find ample career opportunities.”

ADM expects to shift roughly 100 of its top executives to the global center and establish an information technology center at the same location, adding another 100 new jobs over the next few years.

“As we look to establish the new global center, we remain firmly committed to the 4,400 colleagues who will continue to work in Decatur, and to the economic strength and viability of the Decatur community,” Woertz said.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Pat Quinn said he met with ADM executives last week and that they expressed a preference for a move to Chicago, citing the city’s flight connections to points worldwide and its talent pool.

“We look forward to ADM’s continued commitment to our state,” the spokeswoman said, adding that the governor appreciates the company’s continued presence in Decatur. She said specific sites for a new home were not discussed.

To allay concerns in Decatur, ADM said there will be no layoffs as a result of its move. While it open a new “global headquarters,” Decatur will remain the agricultural conglomerate’s regional base, ADM said.

Woertz refused to discuss possible locations, except to say that the company has already had “discussions with various public officials.” Other sources said Chicago is the company’s top choice.

Boeing Co.’s world headquarters was lured to Chicago with a $61 million package of state and city incentives. In 2001, Boeing orchestrated a headquarters derby involving Chicago, Dallas and Denver.

Sources said ADM is not interested in getting into a “Boeing-style competition.” It is looking for millions in state tax credits that will require legislation in Springfield.

It’s unclear whether the company was also looking for city incentives. But, Mayor Rahm Emanuel appears ready and willing to deal.

“I am pleased that ADM will consider staying in Illinois as they consider their future options. As was the case with Motorola Mobility, we will work to ensure that this corporate headquarters stays in Illinois,” Emanuel said in a statement.

“In Chicago, we have made significant investments in transit, schools, workforce development and our airports, and we know that we are competitive with any location in the world. We will stand ready to work with the state and the company to ensure that ADM stays home and chooses Illinois for its very bright future.”

ADM is an American global food-processing and commodities-trading corporation with 30,000 employees around the world.

At more than 265 processing plants, the company converts corn, oilseeds, wheat and cocoa into products for food, animal feed, industrial and energy uses, according to the ADM website.

The Fortune 30 company bills itself as operating the “world’s premier crop origination and transportation network, connecting crops and markets in more than 140 countries on six continents.”

Even with a no-layoff pledge, ADM’s surprise decision to move its corporate headquarters is likely to make Decatur nervous. To ease those concerns, the company on Monday announced a series of multi-year financial commitments to the Downstate community.

They include: a five-year, $2.5 million commitment to public schools; $750,000 for a public-private partnership and uniformed marketing campaign for the economic development corporation of Decatur and Macon County, and $10 million over 10 years to maintain community support.

ADM has already invested more than $5 million in an intermodal container freight shipping and receiving facility in Decatur, the company says.

ADM is one of the world’s leading agricultural processors and currently ranks No. 27 on the Fortune 500 list. The food processing giant had 6,000 Illinois employees, works with more than 20,000 local vendors and purchases more than $8 billion worth of products from Illinois farmers, small businesses and suppliers.

Since taking office, Emanuel has laid off hundreds of city employees while relentlessly pursuing private sector jobs in general and corporate headquarters in particular.

When Motorola Mobility announced plans last year to move 3,000 employees from north suburban Libertyville to the Merchandise Mart, Emanuel called it a “game-changer,” proclaimed Chicago the high-tech hub of the Midwest, then swallowed hard as Google cut 4,000 jobs worldwide, 750 of them at Motorola Mobility.

Because of its global reach and purchasing power, ADM could be the mayor’s biggest coup yet.

Although downtown Chicago is the front-runner, sources said it is not a shoo-in and there is competition from “a couple” of other cities. ADM refused to identify Chicago’s chief rivals.

“Nothing’s guaranteed. They’re looking at all of their options. They’re not looking to hold a gun to anybody’s head. And hopefully, they’ll go through the process very quickly” in a matter of months, said a source familiar with the negotiations.

Mirinda Rothrock, president of the Greater Decatur Chamber of Commerce, said ADM’s decision is no hardship for the local economy.

“ADM’s strategic vision has been growth in the international market, so it is foreseeable they would develop a global headquarters outside of Macon County,” Rothrock said.

Contributing: Mitch Dudek



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.