Libertyville mayor ‘disappointed’ by Motorola move
Motorola Mobility will move its Libertyville headquarters to the Merchandise Mart, the company and Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Thursday. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times
Updated: July 27, 2012 12:29PM
LIBERTYVILLE -- Mayor Terry Weppler said he was disappointed but not surprised by Motorola’s decision to move its headquarters from Libertyville to Chicago, a decision announced July 26.
Weppler said he has heard rumors about a potential move have been flying since the merger between Google and Motorola Mobility was announced earlier this year.
“It’s probably been the worst-kept secret in the world,” he said. “I think everybody was aware of this potential. I’m disappointed, absolutely, but Libertyville will survive.”
Weppler said he has talked with Motorola Mobility CEO Dennis Woodside, and he believes they will find a suitable tenant to fill the Motorola building on Route 45.
“It’s tough, but I feel worst for the families of Motorola employees that will be impacted by this,” he said.
Motorola Mobility will move its Libertyville headquarters — and 3,000 workers — to the top four floors and rooftop of the Merchandise Mart, becoming the landmark building’s largest tenant with 600,000 square feet, Motorola Mobility CEO Dennis Woodside and Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced July 26.
The Mobility move marks Motorola’s return as a major presence in Chicago after 36 years in the suburbs. Motorola got its start at 847 W. Harrison St. in 1928 as the Galvin Manufacturing Corp., and it took on the Motorola name in 1930. The iconic company, known worldwide for inventing the first cell phone in the 1980s and popularizing feature phones with the original Razr 20 years later, moved its headquarters to Schaumburg in 1976.
Motorola Mobility, the cellphone and TV set-top-box divisions of the old Motorola Inc., was bought by search giant Google for $12.5 billion on May 22, and is run out of Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.
But Mobility executives pledged a year before the Google takeover to keep Mobility’s well-paying engineering, finance, marketing, design and executive jobs in Illinois so Mobility could benefit from statewide tax credits worth more than $100 million over a 10-year period.
Gov. Pat Quinn said he gave Google “permission” to move from Libertyville to downtown Chicago, since that was the location Google preferred.
“It’s probably been the worst-kept secret in the world,” said Libertyville Mayor Terry Weppler. “I think everybody was aware of this potential. I’m disappointed, absolutely, but Libertyville will survive.”
Motorola Mobility will join 1871, the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center’s 50,000-square-foot incubator for technology startups, and tech-related companies such as Allscripts and Razorfish in the Merchandise Mart, creating what Emanuel termed a “tech campus” for the city.
Mobility will be the driver in making Chicago “the digital capital of the Midwest,” Emanuel said.
Mobility will invest $300 million in the move, which includes a 15-year lease. No city of Chicago tax incentives are involved in the relocation, a mayor’s office spokeswoman said.
Workers will begin moving in next summer, continuing through the fall. No opening date is set.
Woodside said Mobility will work with the village of Libertyville on the future of the company’s building and real estate in the suburb.
Contributing: Dan Moran and John Roszkowski