Illinois’ richest man is leaving the state and taking his billion-dollar hedge firm with him to Florida amid rising crime in the Windy City.
In a memo to employees, Ken Griffin announced he and his family are relocating to Miami, Florida – and said the headquarters of his Citadel hedge fund and his trading firm Citadel Securities will move with him.
‘Chicago will continue to be important to the future of the Citadel, as many of our colleagues have deep ties to Illinois,’ he wrote in the memo, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
‘Over the past year, however, many of our Chicago teams have asked to relocate to Miami, New York and other offices around the world.’
He went on to call Chicago a ‘remarkable home’ for Citadel, and praised past support from political and business leaders.
But in the past, Griffin, 53, has spoken out against Chicago’s growing crime problem – as violent crime is up a whopping 34 percent from last year.
He even suggested back in April that he was considering leaving the Windy City, saying the crime problem is making it difficult to attract talent.
Griffin did not mention the city’s spiraling crime in his memo, but top executives say it is likely a major reason he decided to move the company, though they also note that Florida does not have a state income tax, which would allow Griffin to grow his wealth even more.
Ken Griffin, 53, the wealthiest person in Illinois, announced on Thursday that he is moving his family and his hedge fund’s headquarters down to Miami
The move of Citadel’s headquarters (pictured) is expected to deliver a major blow to the city’s economy after it already lost the corporate headquarters of Boeing and Caterpillar
Instead, Griffin simply called Miami a ‘vibrant, growing metropolis that embodies the American Dream. ‘
He said the company’s new location in Brickell Bay will be in the heart of the city’s business district.
The company has already had a presence in Miami since March 2020, when employees started working from a high-end there at the start of the pandemic.
But Griffin has now hired Chicago-based developer Sterling Bay to build a new headquarters, and in the meantime, he said in the memo, Citadel will lease space in Miami until the building is finished.
The move is expected to take several years to complete – as the firms have more than 1,000 employees in Chicago.
It will deal a significant blow to the state’s tax collection efforts, as Griffin has a net worth of about $25 billion and is among the top 50 wealthiest people in the world, according to the Wall Street Journal, and comes on the heels of the Chicago region losing the corporate headquarters of Boeing and Caterpillar.
And though he does not mention it in his memo, the Journal reports, top executives believe the city’s rising crime may be a factor – though they also note that Florida does not have a state income tax, which would let Griffin keep more of his earnings.
Crime in Chicago has soared 34 percent this year, with thefts up 66 percent and robberies up 21 percent from last year
Griffin has been a staple of the Windy City for years.
He founded the Citadel Fund in Chicago in 1990, and it has become one of the most successful alternative investment vehicles for wealthy people and institutions in the world.
Citadel is now one of the most successful hedge-fund firms, managing $51 billion in assets and consistently outpacing competitors. In fact, the company has continued to perform well even as the economy slumps, with executives reporting recently that its assets are up 13 percent.
By 2002, Griffin founded Citadel Securities, which has become the world’s top market maker. As of January, it was valued at $22 billion.
Griffin has since donated about $500 million to local causes, and plans to give more.
He has paid for the construction of 50 miniature soccer fields across the city and made it possible to separate bicyclists and runners along the Lakefront Trail, according to the Sun-Times, and he supported food programs during the pandemic.
The local Museum of Science and Industry has even said it would name itself after Griffith after he donated $125 million, but the museum has not yet done so, according to the Sun-Times.
Griffin has been a staple of the Windy City for years, after founding the Citadel Fund in Chicago in 1990. He has since spent about $500 million on local causes, and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago said it would name itself after him after he donated $125 million
Griffin has donated $50 million to the campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Richard Irvin (pictured in 2020), who has called out the governor for soft-on-crime policies
But recently, Griffin has spoken out about Chicago’s growing crime problem, and even hinted to the Journal back in April that he was considering leaving the city.
‘If people aren’t safe here, they’re not going to live here,’ he said at the time. ‘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.’
He added that carjackers once accosted his security detail, but failed to get his vehicle, and Citadel executives have cited crimes near the homes of several employees, while also noting that the headquarters on Dearborn Street was vandalized by rioters in 2020.
Crime in the city has now soared 34 percent of this year. Theft, burglary, and robbery are all up significantly at 65, 31, and 21 percent, respectively.
Griffin has also assailed Illinois Gov JB Pritzker for having no strategy to deal with the crime wave, and has dumped $50 million into the campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Richard Irvin, who has also lambasted the governor for his soft-on-crime policies.
‘We have a governor who wants to handcuff the police, rather than handcuffing those who commit crimes, emboldening the very criminals who are terrorizing out neighborhoods,’ Irvin said at a campaign stop last month, vowing to reverse what he deems are ‘anti-police’ policies.
‘That means keeping cash bail for violent criminals, banning anonymous complaints against police officers to ruin their careers, restoring felony murder to hold killers accountable,’ Irvin said, according to WBBM.
In a statement following Griffin’s announcement, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office seemed to downplay the affect the move would have on the city. Her office said the departure was ‘disappointing’ but claimed the city’s ‘economic outlook has never been stronger’
In statements following Griffin’s announcement that Citadel is departing the Windy City for a warmer climate, local and state officials seemed to downplay the loss of the business.
Emily Bittner, a spokeswoman for Gov Pritzker said in a statement: ‘Countless companies are choosing Illinois as their home and we continue to lead the nation in corporate relocations, and had a record-number of business startups in the past year.’
She noted that Kellogg, the maker of cereals and snacks, announced that the largest of the three companies it is splitting into will be based in Chicago.
‘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.’
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s media office, meanwhile, said the departure was ‘disappointing’ but claimed the city’s ‘economic outlook has never been stronger.’
‘Citadel’s leadership has been signaling for some time an enhanced presence in Florida, and while this announcement is not surprising, it is still disappointing,’ the office said.
‘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.
‘We know Citadel will maintain a significant presence in Chicago, and their story would not be possible without the great strengths of our city.’
It added: ‘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.’