We did it again. 2nd year in a row. Back on top again this year!
Correction: Adding more "COMPANIES" than any U.S. city for the second year in a row.
Strength in Diversity
This year’s Top Metros have learned the wisdom of not putting all their eggs in one basket.
From Site Selection magazine, March 2015
TOP METROS OF 2014
Chicago topped all US metropolitan areas with 385 projects in 2014.
by PATTY RASMUSSEN
Frank Sinatra once famously crooned, “My kind of town, Chicago is.” These days he would be joined by a chorus of business and industry executives who have chosen to invest in the Windy City. In fact, 385 companies either expanded or located in Chicago in 2014, resulting in the city being named Site Selection’s Top Metro in the US for the second straight year. The consecutive wins are a pleasant endorsement, says Jeff Malehorn, president and CEO of World Business Chicago.
“Winning back-to-back speaks to the economic leadership and the work being done here in the city and the region,” he says, tipping his cap to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, assorted partner organizations and the business community.
Chicago’s appeal is hardly surprising. The city’s boasts outstanding transportation and logistical assets, including two international airports, a rail hub and seaport, and stands at the crossroads of major Interstates. Chicago and the region are home to a wealth of talent educated at some of the nation’s premier colleges and universities. Foreign companies looking for a US home are drawn to the city’s diverse ethnic population. “Any company outside the US can look to Chicago and see a home,” says Malehorn.
Project highlights for Chicago in 2014 include:
• Valence Health — a health services company based in Chicago adding 500 jobs over the next five years;
• Yelp — the online review and advertising site based in San Francisco, Calif., is opening an office in Chicago and plans to hire 300 employees;
• Braintree — the global payments platform expanded into a 65,000-sq.-ft. (6,000-sq.-m.) headquarters on the eighth floor of the Merchandise Mart. The company is adding 360 new jobs by 2017.
• ADM — the food services company opened its new global headquarters in downtown Chicago in August 2014.
“We have momentum,” Malehorn says. “You can be nothing but bullish. You see it in the metrics.”
In figures released in January, Chicago posted its lowest unemployment rate since April 2008, 6.2 percent. The number of city residents employed in December 2014 increased by more than 38,000. The jobs were mostly attributed to professional and business services, education and health service and transportation and warehousing. Malehorn says diversity is a theme in Chicago’s growth, but so is innovation and disruption.
“No single sector dominates,” he says. “We’re one of the most diverse cities by industry, and yet every industry and company is either going to be technologically enabled or disrupted. That’s why we spend a lot of time making certain we’re competitive, whether in information technology, clean tech, advanced manufacturing, or bio and med tech. These firms are attracted to the Chicago region because they’re near the talent and this broad customer base and transportation.”