Ken Griffin of Citadel, a multibillion-dollar hedge fund, announced that he would move his company from Chicago, Illinois, to Miami, Florida.
“Chicago will continue to be important to the future of Citadel, as many of our colleagues have deep ties to Illinois,” Griffin wrote in a Thursday letter to his employees, per The Wall Street Journal. “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.”
Griffin — whose $29 billion net worth makes him the richest man in Illinois and places him within the 50 richest men on the planet, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index — has already moved to Florida. He hinted to The Wall Street Journal earlier this year that crime rates may have prompted his decision.
“If people aren’t safe here, they’re not going to live here,” he told the outlet. “I’ve had multiple colleagues mugged at gunpoint. I’ve had a colleague stabbed on the way to work. Countless issues of burglary. I mean, that’s a really difficult backdrop with which to draw talent to your city from.”
Under the leadership of Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D-IL), the city of Chicago recorded 797 homicides in 2021 — the highest of any American city.
Lightfoot’s office acknowledged that Citadel’s move is by no means a positive development. “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,” a statement said. “Our economic outlook has never been stronger and we will continue to build upon a best-in-class recovery in the nation amongst large U.S. cities.”
Indeed, Griffin is heavily involved in philanthropy and owns over $1 billion in residential real estate, The Wall Street Journal reports. Citadel manages over $51 billion in investment capital, according to its website.
The office of Governor J.B. Pritzker (D-IL) — with whom Griffin has feuded — said in a statement that “countless companies” are still choosing to operate in Illinois.
“We will continue to welcome those businesses — including Kellogg, which just this week announced it is moving its largest headquarters to Illinois — and support emerging industries that are already creating good jobs and investing billions in Illinois, like data centers, electric vehicles and quantum computing,” Pritzker spokeswoman Emily Bittner said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal.
Citadel is the third major company to move its headquarters out of Chicago in the past two months, following earlier decisions from construction machinery maker Caterpillar and airplane manufacturer Boeing. The former planned a move to Irving, Texas, while the latter will relocate to Arlington, Virginia.
“We believe it’s in the best strategic interest of the company to make this move, which supports Caterpillar’s strategy for profitable growth as we help our customers build a better, more sustainable world,” Caterpillar CEO Jim Umpleby in a statement.
As with employees at Citadel, investment bankers in New York City — which also struggles with rising crime — overwhelmed recruiters’ offices last summer with requests for moves to Florida. Meanwhile, one Disney executive cited Florida’s “business-friendly climate” when announcing plans to relocate 2,000 employees from California to the Sunshine State — but was forced to delay those plans amid the entertainment giant’s battle with Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) over parental rights legislation.
Florida saw the largest net domestic migration between July 2020 and July 2021, with over 220,000 residents moving to the state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Florida was followed by Texas and Arizona, while New York, California, and Illinois led the nation in terms of numeric decline.