ADM move leaves Decatur without guarantees

2013-12-19T07:00:00Z ADM move leaves Decatur without guaranteesBy Chris Lusvardi | chris.lusvardi@lee.net pantagraph.com

DECATUR — A revised plan for Archer Daniels Midland Co. to move its global headquarters to Chicago next year will leave Decatur without a guarantee from the company to create jobs or provide previously announced financial support to the community.

After three months of speculation, ADM officially announced Wednesday plans to relocate 50 to 75 employees to the new Chicago office. The number of jobs is fewer than ADM previously said in September would be moving from Decatur and created as part of a separate information technology center.

The company said no layoffs are planned in connection to the move.

It had asked state lawmakers to provide taxpayer-funded incentives for the move, but the House did not consider a measure that had been approved in the Senate during a special session earlier this month.

“It is concerning a lot of what they agreed to support won’t happen,” said state Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet. “That is very worrisome.”

Decatur will become ADM’s North American headquarters and remain an important part of its operations, spokeswoman Victoria Podesta said.

However, Podesta said in addition to no guarantee of adding jobs in Decatur, the company has withdrawn financial commitments made when it announced its intentions to move the global headquarters from Decatur.

The company said at the time it would provide $250,000 a year for three years to support the Economic Development Corporation of Decatur and Macon County and $500,000 a year for five years to the Decatur school district. In addition, the company said it would maintain its other Decatur and Macon County community support at $1 million a year for at least 10 years.

Rose asked for the educational support to be extended for school districts throughout Macon County.

Podesta said although it will no longer be making commitments on those levels moving forward, it remains supportive of investing in Decatur, especially with education dollars. The particular investments were connected with trying to gain support from lawmakers in order for the company to receive taxpayer incentives, she said.

“Those dollars won’t attach,” Podesta said.

State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, said he met with local Decatur and ADM officials in an attempt to come up with a more satisfactory deal than ADM originally proposed. Manar met with officials from the city, the Economic Development Corporation and Greater Decatur Chamber of Commerce to develop the proposal that was voted upon and approved 39-14 in the Senate.

Manar thought a deal had been reached that could benefit all involved while creating around 500 jobs in Decatur over the next five years in exchange for approximately $30 million in tax incentives. The added jobs would have replaced 100 that would have been relocated.

“I’m disappointed we couldn’t get a bill passed in the timeframe to satisfy their needs,” Manar said. “They have to make a business decision at the end of the day. We were all interested in finding ways to grow jobs in Decatur.”

ADM said it wanted to make a decision by the end of the year, but the House isn’t scheduled to be back in session until the end of January.

“We decided to move forward in the way that best meets our organizational objectives,” said Patricia Woertz, ADM chairman, president and CEO.

Decatur Mayor Mike McElroy credited ADM for its attempts to work with state and local officials on a deal. The guarantee of jobs was particularly attractive, he said.

“They clearly put their best foot forward to make it work,” McElroy said. “I put no blame on ADM. They were willing to do what they said.”

The company remains an integral part of the Decatur community going forward, McElroy said.

“They are very viable to what happens in the community,” said McElroy, who noted ADM will still employ well over 4,000 people in Decatur. “Thankfully, they will continue to be a huge source for jobs. ADM is a tremendous corporate partner.”

ADM’s commitment to Decatur through its efforts to help develop the Midwest Inland Port is encouraging because of the potential to create jobs, said Larry Altenbaumer, interim president of the Economic Development Corporation and a co-founder of the Grow Decatur community development initiative.

“Where we landed is a disappointment,” said Altenbaumer, who was hoping a deal could be struck. “The proposal not being considered in the House, that’s a lost opportunity.”

Still, having the global headquarters move to Chicago is being seen as better for Decatur than having it leave the state entirely. ADM had considered other locations, including Minneapolis/St. Paul, Atlanta and Dallas to relocate its headquarters.

Company shareholder Martin Glotzer, who has for several years asked ADM to consider a move to Chicago, said the relocated leaders can come up with ideas to move the company forward, which will ultimately benefit those remaining in Decatur.

“The whole purpose is to increase the business of Archer Daniels,” said Glotzer, who is a Chicago resident.

Chicago met a lot of the criteria the company was looking for in selecting a location, Podesta said.

“While we considered other global hubs, Chicago emerged as the best location to provide efficient access to global markets while maintaining our close connections with U.S. farmers, customers and operations,” Woertz said. “Chicago also provides an environment where we can attract and retain employees with diverse skills, and where their family members can find ample career opportunities.”

The exact site in Chicago of the new headquarters has yet to be determined. Podesta said the company will be working with employees next month to determine who will be moving, and it hopes to have them moved during the summer in time to get their families situated before the start of the school year.

In addition to relocating the global headquarters, alternative sites are being considered for an information technology center that would have added 100 jobs at the site of the new main office. ADM expects a decision on the technology center to be made by the middle of 2014.

Podesta said because Decatur already has an information technology operation, it isn’t being considered for the center. Chicago remains an option as ADM is looking to find a place that is an IT hub where setting up an operation can be done in a cost effective manner, she said.

Podesta said being able to find the trained talent to staff the center will be an important part of the decision.

Copyright 2015 pantagraph.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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