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ADM settles in at new Chicago headquarters

ADM settles in at new Chicago headquarters


DECATUR – After 45 years in Decatur, Archer Daniels Midland Co. on Monday completed the move of its corporate office to Chicago.

The agricultural processing company said about 70 employees will be based in its global headquarters and customer center at 77 W. Wacker Drive, Suite 4600, in downtown Chicago. Of those workers, it said 50 will be moving from Decatur and the rest will be new hires.

The details of the move ended up being about what local officials in Decatur expected based on what they had been told starting nearly a year ago.

“I don't like losing anybody,” Decatur Mayor Mike McElroy said. “I would hope we could have kept them all, but I understand in business it doesn't matter what you think or hope. If ADM is successful, then Decatur is successful. I wish them nothing but the best.”

ADM has roots in Decatur dating back to 1939. Its corporate headquarters and research labs were moved to the city in 1969, and it has grown into one of the world's largest companies in the time since.

Even with the shift of its corporate office to the north, ADM plans to maintain a significant presence in Decatur. It plans to keep Decatur as its North American base of operations, with two of the largest processing facilities in the company's global network and single largest community of employees.

ADM, which employs about 31,000 people worldwide, has about 4,400 employees in Decatur.

As ADM continues operating in Decatur, McElroy said the city is working with it to succeed. ADM is a big part of changes to the city's water supply, with a $90 million dredging of Lake Decatur under way, McElroy said.

ADM had tried unsuccessfully last year to secure millions of dollars worth of state tax incentives to keep its world headquarters in Illinois. Despite not receiving the tax breaks, ADM officials still decided in December to move to Chicago, which was widely believed to be its top choice all along.

The company did not release the exact cost of the move, but Chief Financial Officer Ray Young said in a recent discussion with industry analysts that ADM recognized $31 million in pretax costs related to the global headquarter relocation along with restructurings and integration under way at European agribusiness Alfred C. Toepfer International and at livestock feed ingredients business Alliance Nutrition.

ADM will occupy a two-floor space in the 50-story former United Building along the Chicago River. The space also includes a culinary facility for the company to showcase its portfolio of food ingredients.

“As we continue to grow our company, this location allows us to more easily reach global markets, while keeping us in close contact with U.S. farmers, customers and operations,” ADM Chairman and CEO Patricia Woertz said.

Keeping the ADM global headquarters in Illinois is encouraging, said Larry Altenbaumer, Economic Development Corporation of Decatur and Macon County interim president. Altenbaumer sees a greater economic potential to projects in the works than the jobs that have left meant to the Decatur area.

“I see a significant upside and opportunity,” Altenbaumer said. “If we can be smart and pull off at least a portion of what is being discussed, the potential is there for a lot to be proud of. We're blessed by what exists within the community.”

The EDC is working with ADM in developing the Midwest Inland Port, which Altenbaumer said can attract new logistics, distribution and manufacturing jobs to Decatur. In addition to opportunities related to the port, Altenbaumer said changes to other businesses can benefit the area.

The planned change of ownership for the PPG Industries facility near Mount Zion and potentially having it fully operational came as a somewhat unexpected possibility when plans were announced in July, Altenbaumer said.

“Some had questioned the long-term viability of the facility,” Altenbaumer said. “All of a sudden, it turned into an opportunity. It could bring additional growth. It can get done in a short amount of time and be a big boost.”

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