Chicago named 'Top Metro' for corporate relocation, expansion

Ice forms along the shore of Lake Michigan, Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015, in Chicago. (Kiichiro Sato)

For the second year in a row, Site Selection magazine named Chicago the "Top Metro" area for corporate relocations and expansions.

World Business Chicago, a not-for-profit economic development organization chaired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, tracked 624 expansion projects in 2014. About half of those projects were included in the magazine's ranking.

The magazine said in all, relocation and expansion projects across the city created more than 21,000 jobs and $6.8 billion in investments last year.

Corporate expansion is growing in both Chicago's central business district and in city neighborhoods, including Avondale, Ashburn, Clearing, Archer Heights, Pullman and West Town, among others.

City officials said more than 2,800 of those new jobs and $1.3 billion in investments came from companies expanding in Chicago neighborhoods.

WBC also tracked 149 international companies that relocated to or expanded in Chicago.

"Chicago's back-to-back number one ranking in Site Selection's "Top Metros" serves to underscore the strength of the city's appeal," said Site Selection Senior Editor Patty Rasmussen. "The combination of Chicago's logistical assets, available intellectual capital and diverse business sectors, coupled with a thriving innovation and startup culture, make the city a dynamic choice for investors and site selectors."

Industries that showed the most growth in 2014 were manufacturing, education, retail and business services.

City officials said a diverse economy is a key reason why companies choose Chicago. They said no single industry makes up more than 14 percent of the city's workforce.

Two hundred more jobs are coming to Chicago, as Mead Johnson moves its global headquarters to River Point Tower near Lake and Canal. Mead Johnson makes baby formula and other products.

"This move is about our long-term future. Locating in the center of a vibrant, world-class city and business hub like Chicago is consistent with our vision to be the world's leading nutrition company for babies and children. Our new downtown location will offer us advantages in terms of access to resources, employee and visitor amenities, and our ability to attract and retain the very best talent," stated Kasper Jakobsen, Mead Johnson's President and Chief Executive Officer.

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