Tyson Foods Inc. became the latest large company to announce its departure from Chicago, continuing a trend in the city that many have argued is the result of the city’s skyrocketing rates of crime and threatens to do harm to its most vulnerable populations.
“You’re talking about a situation where you have a hollowed out economy, where you have businesses leaving, there are no jobs, “Heritage Foundation senior research fellow in the Center for Health and Welfare Policy Robert Moffit told Fox News Digital last month.” And the people who are desperately hurt by this are mostly low income and black and minority residents who suffer the most from this high crime.”
Moffit’s comments came after McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski took aim at Chicago in a mid-September speech, arguing that the city’s rising crime rates have made it increasingly difficult for companies to operate or find employees.
“We have violent crime that’s happening in our restaurants … we’re seeing homelessness issues in our restaurants. We’re having drug overdoses that are happening in our restaurants,” Kempczinski said at the time. restaurants, every single day, what’s happening in society at large.”
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Crime in Chicago has spiked during Black Lives Matter riots and the defund the police movement in the aftermath of the 2020 death of George Floyd, with the city recording its deadliest year in a quarter-century in 2021 with 797 homicides.
Chicago Police Department Chief of Detectives Eugene Roy told Fox News Digital over the summer that the city has engaged in a “stealth defunding” of the police department by failing to provide adequate resources and staffing to the department as officers leave or retire.
The reality has seen crime rise across nearly every category, something businesses are taking note of as they look toward the future.
Billionaire Ken Griffin announced earlier this year that he was moving his hedge-fund firm, Citadel, out of Chicago because of the rising crime, a move that was also made by mining equipment giant Caterpillar and Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company.
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“If people aren’t safe here, they’re not going to live here,” Griffin told the Wall Street Journal in April. “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.”
Chicago has also seen small businesses flee the area, with Gary Rabine, founder of the Rabine Group and owner of 13 businesses, telling Fox News Digital last month that crime was behind his decision to take his rod paving business elsewhere.
“We would do thousands of jobs a year in the city, but as we got robbed more, my people operating rollers and pavers we got robbed, our equipment would get stolen in broad daylight and there would usually be a gun involved, and it got expensive and it got dangerous,” Rabine said.
Rabine also pointed out that the rising crime leads to increased costs in other areas, pointing to increased expenses in both security for his businesses and insurance rates.
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“What happened eventually is we said enough is enough,” Rabine said. “We stopped doing work down there, we stopped doing work for the gas company, the electric company, the south side, the west side and eventually all over Chicago. Those companies now work in other places. They work over the border in Wisconsin, the outer suburbs of Chicago, where they feel safer.”
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has defended the city in the wake of the exodus, arguing business leaders such as Kempczinski don’t have a firm understanding of the situation.
“I think what would have been helpful is for the McDonald’s CEO to educate himself before he spoke,” the Chicago Democrat told reporters last month, pointing to a letter from World Business Chicago President Michael Fassnacht that she argued “lays out in exact detail all the good news, economic news, about what’s happening in our city.”
But Kempczinksi wasn’t buying the rosy picture painted by city officials.
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“The fact is that there are fewer large companies headquartered in Chicago this year than last year,” Kempczinski said. “There are fewer this month than last month.”
Tyson becomes the latest company to contribute to the trend, though its leaders stayed away from publicly pointing to rising crime as a driver of the decision.
Bringing our talented corporate team members and businesses together under one roof unlocks greater opportunities to share perspectives and ideas, while also enabling us to act quickly to solve problems and provide the innovative products and solutions that our customers deserve and value,” Tyson CEO Donnie King said in a release announcing the decision, pointing out that the employees would be moving to the company’s global headquarters in Arkansas.
Nevertheless, Rabine argued the city will continue to lose businesses as they have a difficult time attracting talent to a city plagued by violence.
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“If you want a great culture in your company you have to have people that love being on the team and they don’t want to live in a violent area,” Rabine said. “They don’t want to live in a place where their kids can’t walk to school safely and their wives and kids can’t go shopping in a beautiful environment like Michigan Avenue which was once the safest place you could ever go shopping. “
Lightfoot’s office did not immediately respond to a Fox Business request for comment.