Ken Griffin, the richest in Illinois, is taking his family, his billions of dollars and his businesses and leaving Chicago.
He made the announcement Thursday in a memo to employees. Griffin said the headquarters of his Citadel hedge fund and trading company, Citadel Securities, will move to Miami, which he called a “vibrant, growing metropolis that embodies the American dream.”
The change should last several years. The companies have more than 1,000 employees in Chicago, and while some are expected to remain, it is unknown how many.
Griffin’s announcement said he moved his family to Miami. He hasn’t offered farewell shots in Chicago or Illinois, but he has been unrelenting in his comments about the rise in downtown crime and local tax and regulatory policies. He made threats to leave for months.
With a net worth estimated by Forbes at over $25 billion. Griffin has been Chicago’s top philanthropist, donating about $500 million to local causes with plans to donate more, but he’s also known for his high spending on politicians. He invested $50 million in the campaign of Richard Irvin, who is running in the Republican primaries for governor, but he fared poorly in a recent Sun-Times/WBEZ poll.
“Chicago will continue to be important to the future of Citadel, as many of our colleagues have deep ties to Illinois,” Griffin said in his memo to employees. “Last year, however, many of our Chicago teams asked to move to Miami, New York and our other offices around the world.”
Griffin called Chicago a “remarkable home” for Citadel and praised past support from political and business leaders. But he said on other forums that rising crime has made it more difficult to attract top talent to Citadel, resulting in companies increasing their headcount in other cities and reducing it in Chicago.
He said the new headquarters will be in Brickell Bay, in Miami’s business district. Citadel said it hired Chicago-based developer Sterling Bay to manage the project. She plans to lease space in Miami until the building is completed. Griffin was not made available for an interview.
Its announcement comes shortly after the Chicago area lost its corporate headquarters to Boeing and Caterpillar, a worrying trend slightly balanced by news this week that one of the three companies that cereal and snack maker Kellogg will split into, the largest, will be headquartered. in Chicago. . And in a victory for the city at the expense of the suburbs, Abbott said he will move 450 workers from headquarters to downtown Lake County.
In April, Griffin expanded on the crime issue in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “If people aren’t safe here, they won’t live here,” he said. “I’ve had several colleagues robbed at gunpoint. I had a colleague stabbed on the way to work. Numerous theft issues. I mean, this is a very difficult backdrop for attracting talent to your city.”
Griffin said car thieves approached his security team but were unable to get hold of his vehicle.
Citadel executives cited crimes near the homes of several employees and also noted that the headquarters at 131 S. Dearborn St. was vandalized during the 2020 downtown riots.
Griffin attacked Governor JB Pritzker for not having a strategy to deal with the crime wave. It became a war of Illinois billionaires, with Pritzker spending millions in his own right to campaign for re-election.
A Pritzker spokeswoman, Emily Bittner, did not directly address Griffin’s departure. She said: “Countless companies are choosing Illinois as their home as we continue to lead the country in corporate relocations and have had a record number of start-ups in the past year.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office said: “Citadel’s leadership has been signaling an enhanced presence in Florida for some time, and while this announcement is not surprising, it is still disappointing. We thank the Citadel team for their contributions to our city and their many philanthropic commitments, particularly around education, arts and culture, and public safety. We know Citadel will maintain a significant presence in Chicago and its history would not be possible without our city’s great strengths.”
But factors other than crime may be at play. Florida has no state income tax, which will benefit any worker who chooses to relocate, but particularly those with high salaries. It’s also possible that Griffin finds Sunshine State politics more to his liking.
Griffin was born in Daytona Beach, Florida, and later moved to Boca Raton, closer to Miami. Several media outlets have reported on his habit of buying ultra-expensive homes in areas where Citadel has offices, including several properties on Miami’s Star Island. The Wall Street Journal in 2020 said its various purchases totaled more than $1 billion.
Locally, evidence of your spending remains in other ways. With its $125 million donation in hand, the Museum of Science and Industry has said it will be called Griffin, although it hasn’t implemented this change. There has been no word from the museum on whether Griffin’s departure from Chicago affects that plan.
He supported the University of Chicago Crime Lab’s research into the cause of violence. Griffin paid for the construction of 50 miniature football fields across the city and made it possible to separate cyclists and joggers along the Lakefront Trail. His generosity supported food donation programs during the pandemic.
Griffin founded the Citadel hedge fund in Chicago in 1990. It has become one of the most successful alternative investment vehicles for wealthy individuals and institutions. The company said it continued to perform well this year despite a bear market, with assets up 13% through May.
His Citadel Securities, founded in 2002, has become the world’s largest market makers, which are companies designated to buy and sell stocks on an ongoing basis to ensure ease of trading. In January, the company secured an outside minority investment that valued the entire company at $22 billion.
Ken Griffin’s Philanthropy
Citadel says Ken Griffin has donated more than $600 million to educational, cultural, medical and civic organizations over the past 30 years.
Some of your donations:
May 2022 — $25 million to launch two academies at the University of Chicago that will provide six months of training for police leaders here and across the country and for people who run violence-stopping groups.
March 2020 – Griffin and partners at his finance companies donated $1 million to the Chicago Public Schools and $1.5 million to the Chicagoland Food Pantry to deliver breakfast and lunch to city kids at home while their schools are closed due to to the pandemic.
october 2019 — The Museum of Science and Industry will now be renamed the Kenneth C. Griffin Museum of Science and Industry following a $125 million donation from the Chicago billionaire. It is the largest single gift in the history of the museum, which opened in 1933.
april 2018 – A $10 million grant from Griffin underwrote the Chicago Police Department and University of Chicago Crime Lab collaboration through 2019, with part of the money going to an “innovation fund.” The money also helped improve services for police officers, including training, stress management and mental health treatment.
December 2017 — The Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund has donated $3 million to pave the way for the construction of 50 miniature football fields across the city over the next five years. The announcement was made at Gage Park as part of a national campaign by the US Soccer Foundation known as “It’s Everyone’s Game”.