The Windy City is Getting Busy

March 02, 2011

Chicago is the No. 1 metropolitan area in the country for corporate expansion in 2010.

Site Selection Magazine, a corporate real estate and economic development publication, said the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet metro area had 184 corporate real estate projects last year.

Picture of 600 W. Chicago, where Groupon is based.

Several rapidly growing technology firms have moved into 600 West in Chicago, including Groupon.

That “clobbered the competition” and makes the Chicago area the top spot in the U.S. for corporate expansion.

Some of the companies that relocated or expanded in Illinois last year included Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Fair Oaks Farms, Astellas Pharma, Navistar and Groupon, which the magazine said are “changing the future of Internet commerce.”

Groupon got a lot of attention during the Super Bowl with controversial commercials, but it accomplished its goal: Its ads got more attention than any other during the most-watched TV program ever.

That means the most talked-about company on the planet is based in Chicago.

Unfortunately, spending millions of dollars on those ads didn’t really pay off: Groupon’s traffic the week after the Super Bowl increased a mere 3 percent. But that’s another story.

Other cities that had a high amount of corporate expansion projects in 2010:

*Houston: 152 projects

*Dallas-Fort Worth: 127

*Cincinnati: 123

*New York City: 120

“The upside of our economic diversification is that any kind of industry finds itself at home in Chicago,” said Rita Athas, president of World Business Chicago. “Our quality of life attracts a lot of young people. And the Chicago region has a lot of sites to offer.

“Some companies need a city and some need a greenfield location. The Global Cities Index recently rated Chicago the sixth best business destination in the world. Companies small and large and medium are all starting to realize they need access to international markets. Our goal is to move up to number three in this ranking.”

In the magazine article, Athas says Chicago is approaching an economic turnaround and addresses the recent increase in the corporate tax rate.

“Everyone is zeroing in on the corporate tax rates,” said Athas. “Illinois has challenging financial issues and they are being addressed. But when you look at the total tax package, we are still in the middle in terms of business tax rates around the country.”

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