CHICAGO (CBS) — ConAgra, manufacturer of processed food brands like Chef Boyardee, Slim Jim, Tennessee Pride, and Jiffy Pop, is cutting approximately 1,500 jobs, and moving its headquarters from Omaha, Nebraska, to downtown Chicago.
The company already has about 400 employees in Naperville, but those jobs will be relocated to the new ConAgra headquarters in the Merchandise Mart, along with the company’s senior leadership team in Omaha.
The new headquarters will open at the Merchandise Mart next summer, and approximately 700 employees will be located in the new Chicago offices. The company will maintain about 1,200 employees at its Omaha offices, mainly for research and development, supply chain management, and some administrative functions.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel applauded the company’s move to Chicago.
“By choosing Chicago as their new home, ConAgra Foods sees the same strengths that so many other companies see in relocating their headquarters here from our talent, to our transportation, to our quality of life,” he said in a prepared statement. “This decision by ConAgra Foods further solidifies Chicago’s role as one of the world’s leading destinations for food processing companies. I look forward to watching them become part of Chicago’s future by creating even more jobs and opening up more opportunities for the residents of our city.”
The move is part of a restructuring the company expects will save ConAgra approximately $300 million over the next three years. The restructuring includes eliminating approximately 1,500 non-plant positions, or about 30 percent of ConAgra’s global office workforce.
ConAgra said it expects about $345 million in one-time charges over the next couple years related to the restructuring.
“It is critical that we run as lean and as efficient and as effective as possible,” ConAgra spokesman Jon Harris said.
Citing anonymous sources, the Chicago Tribune reported Gov. Bruce Rauner offered ConAgra state tax incentives to relocate its headquarters to Illinois. While the governor has frozen such incentives amid the state’s budget stalemate, the incentives were offered to ConAgra before that, and will be honored.