Tyson Foods moves corporate jobs to Arkansas in latest blow to Chicago

By Tom Polansek

CHICAGO (Reuters) -Tyson Foods Inc is joining other corporate heavyweights in moving jobs out of Illinois.

The biggest U.S. meat company by sales said on Wednesday it will relocate all corporate employees from offices in Chicago and suburban Downers Grove, along with those in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota, to its headquarters in Springdale, Arkansas.

It is the latest shakeup for Tyson, which has about 1,000 corporate employees in the Chicago-area and South Dakota offices. Nationwide, the meat company has about 120,000 employees, with about 114,000 of them working in production plants.

Tyson said it will begin a "phased relocation" of the corporate employees early next year and that the move will benefit collaboration and decision making. Members of the Tyson family, which founded Tyson Foods, and several top executives have long been based in Arkansas.

A company spokesperson said no layoffs are associated with the relocations. It was not known how many office workers would make the move.

A spokesperson for Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said Tyson "is making decisions based on its unique corporate needs" and growing in other parts of the state. Tyson said in August that an expansion project at a Caseyville, Illinois, plant will create 250 jobs.

Still, Tyson's decision deals another blow to Chicago's business community after hedge fund Citadel said in June it was moving its global headquarters from the city to Miami. Boeing also said this year it would move its headquarters to Virginia from Chicago, and Caterpillar announced plans to relocate to Texas from a Chicago suburb.

Kellogg, however, based the corporate headquarters for its largest business, snacks, in Chicago after announcing a split into three independent companies this summer.

Tyson gained its Chicago office when it acquired Jimmy Dean sausage maker Hillshire Brands in 2014. It then ran its prepared foods business there.

Last week, Tyson said Noelle O'Mara, who was group president of prepared foods, had left the job and would be replaced by Stewart Glendinning, who was chief financial officer. John R. Tyson, great-grandson of the company's founder, took over as finance chief.

Tyson shares fell 1.2% on Wednesday and are down about 24% this year.

(Reporting by Tom Polansek; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Bill Berkrot)