Twin Cities on short list of sites for new ADM global headquarters

  • Article by: ADAM BELZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 24, 2013 - 10:55 PM

Chicago reportedly is the front-runner as the agribusiness giant looks for a new corporate home.

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The Archer Daniels Midland Company logo is seen on a tanker truck at the ADM plant in Decatur, Ill.

Photo: Seth Perlman, Associated Press

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The Twin Cities reportedly is on a closely guarded shortlist of sites for a new global headquarters for agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland Co.

The company, which was founded in Minneapolis, announced Monday that it will move about 100 executives and staff from Decatur, Ill., to a new headquarters, with the location to be determined. It also plans to create a new information-technology center at the new location and add about 100 jobs there over a few years.

The company said it is “considering locations and having discussions with various public officials and advisers,” but will not say which cities are in the running.

“We’re not discussing potential locations or engaging in speculation,” said David Weintraub, an ADM spokesman, who added that the move likely will happen in the middle of 2014.

Crain’s Chicago reported Monday, citing anonymous sources, that Chicago is the front-runner, with Minneapolis and St. Louis under consideration.

Crain’s reported that officials in Chicago had been tipped off in advance of Monday’s announcement by ADM CEO Patricia Woertz.

Michael Langley, president of Greater MSP, neither confirmed nor denied that officials in the Twin Cities had been given the same courtesy.

“We’re quite aware of the project as it’s been described, but I’m not at liberty to make any comments on our communications on it,” Langley said.

The Twin Cities already have a food-industry cluster that includes Cargill and General Mills and a deep, knowledgeable workforce, Langley said, so he “certainly understands” why Minneapolis would be an attractive option for ADM.

“In terms of food and food solutions, it’s one of our absolutely strongest areas,” Langley said.

ADM has operations all over the Upper Midwest, including a flour mill at the corner of 38th Street and Hiawatha Avenue in Minneapolis. The company has 30,000 employees worldwide, 265 grain processing plants, and regional headquarters in Rolle, Switzerland; São Paulo, Brazil; and Shanghai, China.

Companies with that kind of reach need their executives close to major airports, said Dick Longworth, a senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Decatur, which will remain the site of 4,400 ADM jobs and become the company’s North American headquarters, is about 180 miles south of Chicago.

“They’re a global company, and to be a global company means that your executives travel a lot,” Longworth said. “Presumably their thought is it’s just better to be next to O’Hare.”

Woertz, ADM’s chairman and chief executive, acknowledged in a statement that the company needs a headquarters from which customers and employees can travel easily. She also signaled that ADM might have trouble attracting talent in Decatur, a town of 76,000 that’s also home to a large Caterpillar factory.

“We also need an environment where we can attract and retain employees with diverse skills, and where family members can find ample career opportunities,” Woertz said.

Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago, said in a statement that he is pleased ADM will consider staying in Illinois.

“In Chicago, we have made significant investments in transit, schools, workforce development and our airport, and we know that we are competitive with any location in the world,” Emanuel said. “We stand ready to work with the state and the company to ensure that ADM stays home and chooses Illinois for its very bright future.”

Madeline Koch, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development said the agency “will engage where appropriate to do whatever we can to bring new investment to the state,” and ADM’s headquarters would be welcome in Minnesota.

“We believe that Minnesota’s industry strengths would align perfectly with their operational needs, and will absolutely pursue the potential relocation,” Koch said.

John W. Daniels founded the Daniels Linseed Company, the forerunner to ADM, in Minneapolis in 1902. George A. Archer, another flaxseed crusher, joined Daniels a year later.

The company quickly expanded to other states and acquired Midland Linseed Products Company in 1923. Not until 1969 were the corporate headquarters moved to Decatur.

Brothers Lowell and Dwayne Andreas, who owned and sold a soybean plant in Mankato that later became part of CHS Inc., purchased blocks of stock in Archer Daniels Midland in the late 1960s. Dwayne Andreas ran the company as chief executive from 1970 until 1999.

Lowell Andreas, who was president of ADM from 1968 to 1972, lived in Mankato until his death in 2009.

Adam Belz • 612-673-4405 Twitter: @adambelz

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