UPDATE 1-Tyson Foods moves jobs to Arkansas in latest Chicago blow

(Adds statement from Illinois Governor’s Office, Stock Price)

By Tom Polansek

CHICAGO, Oct 5 (Reuters) – Tyson Foods Inc is joining other corporate heavyweights in moving jobs out of Illinois.

The largest U.S. meat company by sales announced Wednesday that it will relocate all company employees from offices in Chicago and suburban Downers Grove, as well as those from Dakota Dunes, South Dakota, to its headquarters in Springdale, Arkansas.

It’s the latest shakeup for Tyson, which has about 1,000 employees in offices in the Chicago and South Dakota area. Nationally, the meat company has about 120,000 employees, of which about 114,000 work in production plants.

Tyson said he will begin a “gradual relocation” of company employees early next year and the move will benefit collaboration and decision-making. Members of the Tyson family, which founded Tyson Foods, and several senior executives have long been based in Arkansas.

A company spokesperson said no layoffs were associated with the moves. It was unclear how many office workers would make the trip.

A spokesman for Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said Tyson is “making decisions based on his unique business needs” and expanding into other parts of the state. Tyson said in August that an expansion project at a factory in Caseyville, Ill., will create 250 jobs.

Still, Tyson’s move deals a further 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 from Chicago to Virginia, and Caterpillar announced plans to move to Texas from a suburb of Chicago.

Kellogg, however, based its largest company, snacks, in Chicago after announcing a split into three independent companies this summer.

Tyson gained his Chicago office when he acquired sausage maker Jimmy Dean Hillshire Brands in 2014. He later ran his prepared foods business there.

Last week, Tyson said Noelle O’Mara, who was president of the prepared foods group, had left her position 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 chief financial officer.

Shares of Tyson fell 1.2% on Wednesday and are down about 24% this year. (Reporting by Tom Polansek; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Bill Berkrot)

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