Last October, Boeing’s headquarters in Chicago was described as looking like a ghost town, with few people showing up to work at the company’s corporate offices. And that was largely after the city began reopening following the pandemic lockdowns. Many employees may still have been working from home out of caution over COVID, but others simply didn’t want to brave the streets of the Windy City for fear of being carjacked or otherwise harmed by the criminals who seemed to be running the streets. Now the “ghost town” reputation is apparently going to be amplified because the company announced that it will be escaping Chicago and establishing its HQ in Virginia. And could any sane person really blame them? (National Review)
Boeing, the world’s third-largest defense contractor and a famous maker of passenger jets, is moving its headquarters from Chicago to Arlington, Va.
The move comes as Chicago is increasingly ravaged by crime and random drive-by shootings in the middle of downtown. In recent weeks, the theater district in downtown Chicago has had to shut down plays because the area has become so unsafe at night.
Crime in Chicago is up 35 percent this year compared with the same period in 2021. Theft is up by 67 percent.
To be clear, Boeing isn’t pulling out lock, stock and barrel. They have promised to leave roughly 500 workers in the area. But Boeing employs literally thousands of people in Chicago, so that represents a major loss of jobs. And almost all of the corporate brass will be departing. As noted in the excerpt above, nearly all categories of crime are up significantly again this year, despite Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s continued efforts to deny this reality during press conferences. They had to shut down the theater district because it was unsafe for patrons or theater workers to be on the streets after dark.
So the decision to leave Chicago probably wasn’t a difficult one for Boeing and it’s likely been in the works for a while. But why Virginia? Why not Texas or Florida or one of the other red states that have been courting businesses away from increasingly violent cities? As pointed out in the National Review article, Virginia is in the process of reducing taxes and decreasing regulations. They are also beefing up law enforcement.
It also didn’t hurt to have Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin working behind the scenes trying to tempt Boeing to move to his state. It turns out that Youngkin opened up private negotiations with Boeing on the day he was inaugurated. Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun even made a point of thanking Youngkin for his leadership in this effort when he announced the move.
The municipal government of Chicago needs to wake up and smell the coffee burning on the stove because Boeing isn’t the only major outfit that’s pulling up stakes and fleeing. The Citadel hedge fund is in the process of planning a move to Florida. The Chicago Bears franchise is forming plans to move out of the city and into the suburbs. In December, United Airlines moved 1,300 employees out of downtown Chicago. Others are either planning or have announced similar moves.
Without some serious and immediate changes, Chicago could realistically be at risk of becoming the new Camden, New Jersey. For more than a century, Camden was a center of industry and wealth, boasting one of the larger and more successful shipyards on the east coast. Then in the 60s and 70s criminal gangs began to take over the streets and the decline of the city was both rapid and dramatic. By the mid-eighties, the town had been virtually overrun. Most businesses were gone and the crime rates were among the highest in the nation. Camden turned into hell on earth and it didn’t take long at all. If you don’t think the same thing could happen to Chicago, you haven’t been paying attention to your history lessons.