CHICAGO (CBS) — Nokia is beefing up its presence here in Chicago, bringing at least 150 new jobs to the city, with more to come down the line.
WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports Nokia’s Mobile Phones Xpress Internet Services is moving from suburban Itasca to the company’s offices at 425 W. Randolph St. in Chicago, where Nokia already employs 1,200 people.
“By the very short future, we expect to have some 1,500 people here in Chicago, at this site. So this indeed is becoming the strong technology center for all of the Midwest,” Nokia vice president Ogi Redzic said.
LISTEN: WBBM Political Editor Craig Dellimore Reports
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Nokia’s growth is a huge win for the city.
“Chicago’s on the right path in recruiting talent, recruiting companies, by investing in the education, and the workforce; having the best trained and educated workforce,” he said.
The new Nokia division plans to develop cutting-edge, location-based services – like mapping programs for mobile phones and in-vehicle navigation systems.
The company’s move to Chicago was not tied to any financial incentives from the city.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports, in announcing the new jobs from Nokia, the mayor boasted that more than 25,000 new jobs have come to Chicago since he took office, many of them in the technology sector.
Sensitive to charges he’s been poaching jobs from the suburbs, The mayor downplayed Nokia’s shift of jobs from the Itasca to Chicago, stating the company was considering leaving Illinois altogether, before he convinced Nokia’s CEO in August to move to Chicago instead.
“It wasn’t Itasca’s loss, it could’ve been Illinois’ loss,” Emanuel said. “And I convinced them to come in to Chicago, and not just move their headquarters, but expand. And they could not do that in Itasca.”
Emanuel has often bragged that he has held 30 press events to announce commitments for 25,000 new private sector jobs in Chicago since taking office 18 months ago.
Asked Tuesday how many of those jobs have actually been filled so far – since many of the job announcements were multi-year hiring plans – Emanuel declined to provide an estimate.
“I’m not going to. No, because then you guys play a game of gotcha,” he said.
The reality is much different. The mayor’s staff said, about half – or 12,500 – of those jobs have actually been created so far. The rest have been promised for future years.
“Go through each of the companies, and some are moving quite quickly, and ahead of schedule,” the mayor said.
Emanuel clearly hoped Nokia is one of those companies that will move quickly to fill the promised jobs, but even half the touted 25,000 new jobs is a big number, and the perception is that Chicago is again on the move.
Certainly, the mayor’s strong persuasive efforts have much to do with it.
–CBS 2 Political Producer Ed Marshall contributed to this report.