The city of Decatur, Illinois, will no longer be home to the headquarters of global food giant Archer Daniels Midland. ADM is moving its headquarters to a new, as yet unannounced, location.
About 4,400 ADM employees will continue to work in Decatur, some in a new ADM logistics facility.
But the departure of the ADM headquarters leaves Decatur — informally known as the soybean capital of the world — in an even more precarious position economically.
It has a shrinking population and twice the national unemployment rate.
Decatur Mayor Mike McElroy joins Here & Now to share his reaction.
- Mike McElroy, mayor of Decatur, Illinois.
MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI, HOST:
It's HERE AND NOW.
Well, with all the talk about the government shutdown, we are wondering what's happening outside of Washington. The global food giant Archer Daniels Midland is planning to move its headquarter out of Decatur, Illinois. That's one big thing that's happening. ADM first arrived there in 1939 when it built a huge chemical plant, and then moved its headquarters to Decatur 30 years later. Today, there's a bit of shock in the city of 75,000 people, informally known as the soybean capital of the world.
Joining us is Mayor Mike McElroy. He - and Mr. Mayor, what was your reaction when you heard that Archer Daniels Midland was going to move its headquarters out of your city?
MAYOR MIKE MCELROY: Well, it was certainly disappointment. But it was one that, you know, the rumor mill had had for some time. There are some things that a worldwide entity like ADM needs, just the air connections and the traffic, you know, the different things that we just don't offer in Decatur.
CHAKRABARTI: Yeah. It's interesting, though, because, you know, I understand that moving its headquarters means losing about 100 jobs or so. But they've been in Decatur since 1939. And today, ADM has an annual revenue of $89 billion. And so I wonder if you think that the company could have done more for the city of Decatur.
MCELROY: Well, actually, no. ADM has done an incredible amount of things for Decatur. And as they left, there were several millions dollars that were pledged by ADM for different things that are going to happen in the community.
CHAKRABARTI: Well, what do you think - I mean, Decatur's unemployment rate right now is, what, about 13 percent? So, higher than the national average. What do you think the city needs to help it get back on its feet in a more vigorous way?
MCELROY: We need the economy, number one, to get going. You know, we still have to remember, at ADM, they have over 4,000 people that work in Decatur.
MCELROY: They are still a very, very viable and a very, very needed business in our community. I think we're just like a lot of the, you know, a lot of cities that have been hit that, you know, the Caterpillars, and we depend on big industry.
CHAKRABARTI: Yeah. You're mentioning Caterpillar, the big equipment manufacturing company which had laid off some workers in Decatur. Now, I see that Bridgestone/Firestone also closed a big plant there back in 2001. I guess, my last question for you, Mr. Mayor, is, you know, sometimes cities get very - there's a lot of symbolism wrapped with the major industries that have made their homes there for a long time. And so when those industries leave, their headquarters leave, that there's an emotional impact as well. And is - are people in Decatur are going to feel an emotional impact from ADM's headquarters leaving?
MCELROY: I don't want to lose one job in Decatur, much less a hundred. But the symbolism at ADM is they're not closing one building that they have, and there are 4,000 people that work there. It could have been a lot worse. And Decatur is going to be just fine. We are going to pull through this. We've had things happened before but we bounced back, and we'll continue to do that.
CHAKRABARTI: Well, Mike McElroy is the mayor of Decatur, Illinois. Mayor McElroy, thank you so much for joining us today.
MCELROY: Hey, thank you very much. I appreciate your time. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.