DOWNTOWN — Billionaire Ken Griffin is moving to Miami and is taking his company with him, leaving Chicago after more than three decades.
The head of Chicago-based hedge fund Citadel told staff in a recent memo he was moving the company’s headquarters and its related securities division to Miami. Roughly 300 employees are expected to fill the new Miami office in that city’s financial district in about a year, according to a company spokesperson.
“Miami is a vibrant, growing metropolis that embodies the American Dream — embracing the possibilities of what can be achieved by a community working to build a future together,” Griffin wrote.
The company won’t completely lose its Chicago footprint as it plans to still maintain an office at 131 S. Dearborn St. The company employs 1,000 people in Illinois.
“Chicago will continue to be important to the future of Citadel, as many of our colleagues have deep ties to Illinois,” Griffin elaborated in his memo. “Over the past year, however, many of our Chicago teams have asked to relocate to Miami, New York and our other offices around the world.”
Citadel has 16 offices globally.
Griffin did not share any negative comments about Chicago or Illinois in his announcement, but has previously cited the city’s increased crime and violence as one of several reasons he was considering moving the company. One of those instances was in October, during a talk at the Economic Club of Chicago, where he compared Chicago to Afghanistan “on a good day,” parroting a talking point from former President Donald Trump.
According to additional information provided by Citadel, other factors influencing Griffin’s decision include the stabbing of a Citadel employee one block from the office, an attempted carjacking of Griffin’s car and “mass shootings, rioting and looting a few blocks from Griffin’s home” in the Gold Coast.
Griffin launched Citadel in Chicago in 1990 after graduating from Harvard University.
The announcement comes at no surprise to Mayor Lori Lightfoot, whose spokesperson said Citadel leadership had been “signaling for some time” about a move to Florida.
“While this announcement is not a surprise, it’s still disappointing,” a Mayor’s Office statement read. “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 their story would not be possible without the great strengths of our city.”
Mayor Francis Suarez of Miami took to Twitter to celebrate the announcement welcoming Griffin, who he said he could “now officially call a Miamian.”
The relocation is the latest in a saga of companies leaving the Chicago area for other states.
Boeing announced in May the company will move its headquarters to Arlington, Virginia after 21 years being based in Chicago. Caterpillar, based in suburban Deerfield, announced earlier this month it will relocate its headquarters to Irving, Texas.
The addition of two major companies, Kellogg and Abbott, to the city’s economy could help counterbalance Citadel’s absence. Kellogg announced earlier this week that it plans to split itself into three companies, with one based in Chicago. Abbott, a healthcare company, is leasing more than 100,000 square feet inside Willis Tower, according to Crain’s.
Moving to Florida will be somewhat of a homecoming for Griffin, who was born in Daytona Beach and spent most of his childhood in Boca Raton.
Over the last 30 years in Chicago, Griffin has donated more than $600 million to various educational, cultural, medical and civic organizations, his representative said. A Citadel spokesperson said he will donate another $100 million within the next few days, but it’s yet to be announced who will be receiving the donations.
He’s also donated heavily to local political causes and candidates. He gave nearly $50 million to a group opposing a graduated income tax in Illinois, battling fellow billionaire — Gov. JB Pritzker — on opposite sides of that issue. Illinois voters rejected shifting the state to a progressive income tax during the 2020 election.
More recently, Griffin also has donated heavily to the gubernatorial bid of Richard Irvin, contributing $50 million toward a slate of GOP candidates headed by the Aurora mayor. Irvin is is a six-way battle for the Republican nomination vying to unseat Pritzker. The Illinois primary election is Tuesday.
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: