Pritzker, Lightfoot shrug at Citadel’s exit

They didn’t phrase it that way. But, in so many words, that’s the reaction from City Hall and Springfield to news that the state’s richest resident, hedge fund mogul Ken Griffin, is decamping to Miami, and taking the headquarters of Citadel with him—this after earlier news of HQ departures by Boeing and Caterpillar.

Gov. JB Pritzker, who has had an—at best—testy relationship with fellow billionaire Griffin, was particularly terse in his reaction to him.

“Countless companies are choosing Illinois as their home, as we continue to lead the nation in corporate relocations and had a record number of business start-ups in the past year,” said the statement, which doesn’t even mention Citadel or Griffin by yam. “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.”

Pritzker, of course, has been the target of tens of millions in TV ad attacks funded by Griffin, some which helped sink the governor’s prized graduated income tax amendment in the 2020 election, others of which have funded the campaign of GOP gubernatorial hopeful Richard Irvin this year. between, Pritzker’s spokeswoman accused Griffin of “lying” about whether Pritzker should have called out the National Guard to calm civil unrest in Chicago.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office, in her statement, at least acknowledged that Citadel’s departure would be a loss to the city.

“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,” the statement said. “We know Citadel will maintain a significant presence in Chicago and their story would not be possible without the great strengths of our city.”

However, the bottom line of the statement was the same as Pritzker’s: “In the past week alone, two major companies, Kellogg’s and Abbott, have increased their commitment to Chicago amidst our growing economy. We look forward to continuing to build upon the more than 35 new company relocations and 58 company expansions made this year creating over 2,500 new jobs in Chicago. Chicago’s finance and insurance industry alone generates $53 billion annually in output and employs over 240,000 individuals. Our economic outlook has never been stronger and we will continue to build upon a best-in-class recovery in the nation amongst large US cities.”

The state’s major business groups have not yet spoken—I’m awaiting statements—but Illinois Republicans had plenty to say about Citadel’s exit.

“JB Pritzker is either in complete denial or simply refuses to acknowledge what everyone sees, which is that his high-tax, pro-criminal administration is literally driving jobs and businesses out of state,” gubernatorial hopeful Richard Irvin said in a statement. “In the last month alone, Illinois lost Boeing, Caterpillar and now Citadel.”

Added the statement, “It’s a clear pattern that shows no signs of ending unless we beat Pritzker in November, and I’m the only person in this race with a proven record of success to take Illinois back.”

UPDATE: A little reaction has come in from Todd Maisch, CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s not good news,” said Maisch. After Boeing and Caterpillar, “It’s another reputational hit.”

Maisch has some ideas on what to do to prevent more departures. You’ll be reading about that in a few days.

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