Magic Johnson brings insurance jobs to Illinois; EquiTrust to create about 200 jobs in state

Earvin "Magic" Johnson will be a controlling shareholder of an insurance company that's opening new offices in Chicago and creating about 200 jobs.
January 14, 2014 3:28:11 PM PST
A company backed by Magic Johnson is bringing new jobs to Chicago.

Johnson was on hand for Tuesday's announcement that Equitrust Life Insurance will move its headquarters to Chicago, bringing at least 200 new jobs. The announcement happened at the intersection of economics and politics, with some added star power to make the moment magic.

"God is so good and what a blessing it is to be here in Chicago once again to do business," said Johnson.

NBA Hall-of-Famer turned business tycoon Earvin "Magic" Johnson now controls the Equitrust Insurance and Financial Services Company, which will move its headquarters from Des Moines, Iowa to Chicago.

"We will be growing to over 1,000 jobs beginning with 200, which is quite considerable," said Jeff Lange, CEO, Equitrust.

Equitrust would be the 26th corporation to move its national headquarters to Chicago since 2011. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Governor Pat Quinn-- both facing re-election challenges during the next 14 months-- made the most of this "magic" moment.

"If you have Magic Johnson's confidence that's pretty good for me, and I think pretty good for Illinois, and I think the mayor would say the same thing," said Gov. Pat Quinn.

"It re-affirms the city of Chicago and the State of Illinois as a juggernaut in the insurance area," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Johnson owns two hotels and several Starbucks coffee shops in Chicago. He sponsors a technology center and has provided dozens of college scholarships. He said the fiscally-troubled state and city's financial situation is secondary when he makes decisions on where to do business.

"We look for the leadership. And if the leadership is strong, and they're recruiting investors like myself to come here and easier for us to do that," said Johnson.

Also, we're told that Equitrust is not abandoning Iowa. The company will maintain its operation there that will be directed in the future from Chicago.

Magic Johnson's other businesses include cable television, radio, airport concessions, healthcare and part ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers Major League Baseball franchise.