WBEZ | Sara Lee http://www.wbez.org/tags/sara-lee Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The post-recession apartment class abandons suburban office parks http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-08/post-recession-apartment-class-abandons-suburban-office-parks-101669 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/iDanSimpson.jpg" style="height: 334px; width: 620px; " title="An office park in Barrington, IL (Flickr/iDanSimpson)" /></div><p>Once upon a time, there were thousands of young Illinoisans actively looking for jobs in the suburbs with good schools for their kids or soon-to-be-kids, low taxes, and jobs they could drive to easily. They spawned the birth of the office park, large, heavily landscaped campuses with gyms and cafeterias that, before the recession, were often filled to capacity.<br /><br />But now, in many towns, those campuses stand empty. With an inkling that the recession might be behind us, those companies seeking to reopen or expand are looking at downtown offices. It&rsquo;s not just that more business is happening in denser urban areas these days, although that&rsquo;s true. According to <em>Chicago Sun-Times</em> reporter David Roeder, it&rsquo;s also an issue of image. People would rather work in, &ldquo;a spiffy downtown address in a building of note.&rdquo;<br /><br />Others say the trend is potentially temporary. While it&rsquo;s true the rising professional generation does by and large prefer the apartment lifestyle, the bottom line is that yields are higher in the &lsquo;burbs where property comes cheaper, according to the <em><a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304584404576442121473072328.html">Wall Street Journal</a>. </em><br /><br />A turnaround would &nbsp;be good news for the towns that sprung up around these office parks. Hoffman Estates, about 30 miles from downtown Chicago, recently lost both Sears and AT&amp;T. They were the village&rsquo;s number one and number two employers, respectively. Areas that rely upon office parks housing pharmaceutical companies and other industries that require space have more insulation, says Roeder, but not much. He suggests that those communities left with thousands of square feet of real estate consider converting them to community colleges or hospitals.<br /><br />There&rsquo;s no way of knowing now if the trend will last, but Chicago will see Motorola Mobility make itself at home downtown in the next few weeks, and rumor has it that Sara Lee is considering a move back as well. Roeder, along with Elk Grove President Craig Johnson, will stop &nbsp;by <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> on Monday to talk about what&rsquo;s happening to suburban office parks with WBEZ business reporter Niala Boodhoo.</p></p> Mon, 13 Aug 2012 08:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-08/post-recession-apartment-class-abandons-suburban-office-parks-101669 Emanuel says he's not doing battle against the suburbs http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel-says-hes-not-doing-battle-against-suburbs-94746 <p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he's not at war with the suburbs for business. That comes after Sara Lee announced it will be moving its corporate headquarters from the western suburbs to the West Loop.</p><p>Emanuel is offering up to $6.5 million in special financing for Sara Lee to move its new meat company to Chicago. After touting city life at a news conference announcing the move, Emanuel was asked if he's declaring battle against the suburbs.</p><p>"No. It's just, we won," Emanuel said. "I don't consider it a battle or a war. I just consider - it's not like Battleship, man."</p><p>He was then asked if winning implies competition.</p><p>"It implies being the DNA of an Emanuel," he said.</p><p>Martin Tully is the mayor of Downers Grove, where Sara Lee is currently based. Tully said all municipalities are doing what Chicago's doing to get jobs.</p><p>"We look to Chicago to see what we can lure out to our borders and we also look throughout the regions to see what we can lure to our community," he said.</p><p>Sara Lee is planning to keep its test kitchens in Downers Grove, along with about 100 jobs.</p></p> Thu, 08 Dec 2011 23:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel-says-hes-not-doing-battle-against-suburbs-94746 Sara Lee will move headquarters back to downtown Chicago http://www.wbez.org/story/sara-lee-will-move-headquarters-back-downtown-chicago-94724 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-December/2011-12-08/photo1.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Downtown Chicago will soon call itself home to the corporate headquarters of another company. Sara Lee, which is currently based in west suburban Downers Grove, will soon split into two companies. One of the new companies, which will focus on meats, will relocate to Chicago's West Loop neighborhood, the company announced Thursday.</p><p>The move will bring at least 500 jobs to downtown Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city will provide up to $6.5 million to Sara Lee.</p><p>"You're here to stay," Emanuel said Thursday at a news conference. Sara Lee had been headquartered downtown, but moved to Downers Grove in 2005.</p><p>"We would need, as a smaller, more entrepreneurial company, we need to create a lot of buzz and it's very difficult to get that buzz and energy in an area where it's very quiet, so I think we need that environment of Chicago," said Jan Bennink, the executive chairman of Sara Lee.</p><p>Some of Sara Lee's meat brands include Ball Park, Hillshire Farm, and Jimmy Dean. The new meat company still does not have an official name. The company expects to move into its new space in early 2013.</p><p>Emanuel said he's not in a battle with the suburbs to persuade businesses to move to the city, but he did say, "We won."</p></p> Thu, 08 Dec 2011 16:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/sara-lee-will-move-headquarters-back-downtown-chicago-94724 What do you do with an empty corporate campus? http://www.wbez.org/content/what-do-you-do-empty-corporate-campus <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-23/empty office 1_Flickr_Mark Hillary.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-23/empty office 2_Flickr_Robbie 1.jpg" style="width: 630px; height: 176px;" title="(Flickr/Robbie Sproule)"></p><p>There’s a hot new trend among companies around the Midwest – threatening to leave.&nbsp;Several companies, especially around Chicago, have been asking big picture questions as they take a look at their bottom lines.</p><p>One is the food maker Sara Lee, which is&nbsp;going through a major transition as it prepares to split into two companies.&nbsp;One would be focused on meats, such as sausages and hot dogs.&nbsp;The other one would focus on beverages.</p><p>Company spokesman&nbsp;Jon Harris says the company believes a downtown location “would provide our new North American meats company with an environment that will be energetic, that will foster breakthrough thinking, create revolutionary products, offer fresh perspectives and really own the market.”</p><p>But that means moving from Sara Lee’s headquarters and test kitchens, which are currently based in Chicago’s western suburbs, in Downers Grove, Ill.</p><p>While no location has been chosen for the meat company, downtown Chicago is preferred, Harris says.&nbsp;If Sara Lee does pack up and move, it would leave behind a massive office building designed to hold at least 1,000 workers.</p><p>That’s something Martin Tully, the mayor of Downers Grove, isn’t too excited about, especially&nbsp;as it relates to collecting property taxes. “It’s not insignificant,” he says.</p><p>Tully says he’s working with Sara Lee to try to keep operations based there, but it’s hard when the company is going to split up.</p><p>Also,&nbsp;Sara Lee has no deep ties to Downers Grove.&nbsp;Its offices have only been there for six years. Tully says those six years have been worth it – even if he has to find a new tenant. As he says –&nbsp;who would pass up having Michael Jordan on your basketball team for six years?</p><p>But he has a word of warning for other towns that might be looking to unload one giant piece of land. “You have to be on your toes and alert for those things as a community and as an economic development engine,” said Tully.</p><p>Another&nbsp;example is United Airlines, which is&nbsp;moving thousands of employees to what used to be called the Sears Tower. It’s trying to sell its property in Elk Grove Village, in Chicago’s northwest suburbs, not far from O’Hare International Airport. But nobody is really biting.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-23/empty office 1_Flickr_Mark Hillary.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 225px; float: left; margin: 5px;" title="(Flickr/Mark Hillary)">Mount Prospect – the town next door – wants to take over the land to try to redevelop it, even though there aren’t any buyers.</p><p>Stacey Kruger Birndorf, an expert on office space real estate issues for <a href="http://www.transwestern.net/Pages/default.aspx">Transwestern</a>, a commercial real estate company,&nbsp;says towns like Mount Prospect have to keep in mind what companies want when they look for a new home.</p><p>“I think so much of it is economically driven,” she says. “I wish I could say it’s geographically driven, but so much of it is economics.”</p><p>Kruger Birndorf says companies look at the cost of the property, where new recruits would want to work, and&nbsp;proximity to clients.&nbsp;She says young people by and large want to be downtown.&nbsp;But if a company wants a lot of space, the suburbs might be a better fit.</p><p>Asked whether it’s worth it for towns to allow big campuses that are hard to re-work into anything other than office space, Kruger Birndorf says towns have to go for it.</p><p>“If we don’t have some hope and some optimism,” there would never be any reason to do anything, she says.</p><p>As proof, look at Ann Arbor, Mich.&nbsp;&nbsp;Pfizer, the international pharmaceutical company, had a 70-acre facility there, but moved out in 2007. It left&nbsp;a modern research facility empty, and took a chunk of the city’s property tax budget with it.</p><p>When Ann Arbor couldn’t find a buyer, the price dropped, and the University of Michigan stepped in.</p><p>“You’re getting 2.2 million square feet of office and lab buildings, which seems like an incredible steal for $108 million,” said&nbsp;David Canter, the Executive Director of the North Campus Research Complex.</p><p>He’s turning the facility into a new type of research center for academia, putting&nbsp;researchers from different departments into the same workspace.&nbsp;Before taking over the Pfizer complex, each department on the university’s campus had its own building.</p><p>Now, Canter says pharmacists, dentists, and mathematicians can all be in the same place.</p><p>“As a result, the university will be able to grow without having to invest in designing and developing a lot of series of new buildings that tend to follow growth rather than be in advance of growth,” he says.</p><p>Canter says if Pfizer hadn’t left, this research project from the university wouldn’t exist. It’s an example of how thinking creatively about how work space is used &nbsp;can let both companies and towns breathe easier.</p><p>Changing Gears<em>is a collaboration between WBEZ, Michigan Radio and ideastream. Support for </em>Changing Gears<em>comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. </em></p></p> Wed, 23 Nov 2011 15:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/what-do-you-do-empty-corporate-campus Downers Grove mayor trying to keep Sara Lee from leaving http://www.wbez.org/story/downers-grove-mayor-trying-keep-sara-lee-leaving-92949 <p><p>The mayor of Downers Grove says he's trying to keep Sara Lee's headquarters in the west suburban village.</p><p>Sara Lee officials have been pretty quiet about relocating. But that all changed recently and a spokesman now says Sara Lee is thinking of moving to another suburb or downtown Chicago. The relocation would come after it splits into two companies, scheduled for next year.</p><p>Sara Lee has been based in Downers Grove for six years. The town's mayor, Martin Tully, said Friday that it's been worth it.</p><p>"Some people would say, 'Would you be upset if you only had Michael Jordan on your team for six years as opposed to 16?' I think a lot of people would take that six years and be very happy about it," he said.</p><p>Tully said he's putting together an incentives package to try to keep Sara Lee there, but it's hard because he doesn't know what offshoots of the new Sara Lee will look like.</p><p>Jon Harris, a Sara Lee spokesman, said a downtown location would be good for the new meat-focused company, while Sara Lee would still use its research and development center currently based in Downers Grove. The other company will focus on coffee and tea.</p></p> Fri, 07 Oct 2011 19:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/downers-grove-mayor-trying-keep-sara-lee-leaving-92949 Sara Lee thinking of moving from its west suburban headquarters http://www.wbez.org/story/sara-lee-thinking-moving-its-west-suburban-headquarters-92918 <p><p>West suburban-based Sara Lee is thinking of moving its headquarters.</p><p>For six years, Sara Lee has been based in Downers Grove and it's already thinking of relocating many of its 1,000 employees there. But while other companies in Chicago and the suburbs have been thinking of moving their headquarters out of Illinois altogether, Sara Lee isn't looking to go so far.</p><p>"We've loved Downers Grove and we've loved being out here," Sara Lee spokesman Jon Harris said in a phone interview Thursday.</p><p>He said the company might relocate to another suburb or downtown Chicago.</p><p>"We do believe that a downtown location would provide our new North American Meat Co. with an environment that will be energetic, that will foster breakthrough thinking, create revolutionary products, offer fresh perspectives and, really, own the market," he said.</p><p>Harris said the move is still preliminary and wouldn't happen until Sara Lee splits into two companies, scheduled for next year. He said a downtown location would likely serve the new company that focuses on meats, while Sara Lee would still use its research and development center currently based in Downers Grove.</p></p> Fri, 07 Oct 2011 00:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/sara-lee-thinking-moving-its-west-suburban-headquarters-92918 Kraft, Sara Lee settle hot dog legal battle http://www.wbez.org/story/kraft-sara-lee-settle-hot-dog-legal-battle-91694 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-12/kraft-saralee.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The legal battle over which Chicago company has the right to say it makes the best hot dogs in the country has ended quietly.</p><p>The lawsuits ended with a settlement between Kraft and Sara Lee. The two suburban Chicago-based food makers are parent companies to Oscar Mayer and Ballpark, which are major hot dog brands. Each company sued the other over claims of false advertising.</p><p>Sidley Lindner, a spokeswoman for Kraft, said the terms of the settlement are confidential, but the parties agreed not to exchange any money and neither party will have to change marketing strategy.</p><p>In a written statement from Sara Lee, the company said it's pleased with the settlement and it's looking forward to marketing its Ball Park hot dogs.</p></p> Thu, 08 Sep 2011 18:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/kraft-sara-lee-settle-hot-dog-legal-battle-91694 Rep. Roskam says federal regulations harm job growth http://www.wbez.org/story/rep-roskam-says-federal-regulations-harm-job-growth-91279 <p><p>Illinois Congressman Peter Roskam says federal regulations are putting the squeeze on suburban businesses. The Republican says regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration are limiting job growth and driving up business costs in Illinois.</p><p>One example of the regulations Roskam is against are new proposed rules over unhealthy food in advertisements directed to children. The FDA has proposed regulations that would require foods high in sodium or added sugar, for example, to only be advertised to audiences that are strictly adults.</p><p>Roskam says that would hit suburban companies like Sara Lee.</p><p>"When you can chase a turkey sandwich out of the super bowl, it has become an absurdity. So I would say that moving the pendulum in a different direction is healthy and is there some place to meet in the middle, I'll meet you in the middle," he said.<br> <br> Roskam's position sheds light on the House Republican agenda for the fall. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says as soon as Congress is back in session, he'll bring up legislation to help curb federal regulations. Cantor released a memo Monday chronicling his and his party's intentions. President Barack Obama is also expected to announce a job package after Labor Day.</p></p> Wed, 31 Aug 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/rep-roskam-says-federal-regulations-harm-job-growth-91279 Testimony to begin in 'wiener wars' trial http://www.wbez.org/story/testimony-begin-wiener-wars-trial-90639 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-16/chicago hot dog_flickr_Jen Waller.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Expert witnesses are testifying Tuesday in the case of two prominent hot dog manufacturers suing each other for false advertising.</p><p>During Monday's opening statements, federal Judge Morton Denlow had some fun with the attorneys about the topic at hand, calling the trial 'wiener wars.' But Tuesday, things took a more serious tone as testimony began. Kraft and Sara Lee, the owners of Oscar Mayer and Ball Park respectively, are suing each other for claims made in ads.</p><p>The first witness, Gerald Ford - not that Gerald Ford - testified for Sara Lee. Ford had surveyed a few hundred people, showing them an Oscar Mayer ad claiming it makes the best-tasting beef hot dogs.</p><p>Sara Lee says Kraft ran a faulty taste test and lied in those ads. Kraft has filed a similar lawsuit about Sara Lee's ads. An attorney for Sara Lee says he also plans to call taste test experts to the stand.</p><p>The trial will also address the age old question of just what's in a hot dog, anyway.</p><p>Monday, federal Judge Morton Denlow joked during opening arguments Monday, saying his favorite hot dog brand wasn't represented in this case. But if there's any indication how seriously Kraft and Sara Lee are taking the issues, look no further than the thousands of pages of documents they've filed over the last two years leading up to the trial. Judge Denlow joked Monday he had to stop reading the novel 'Anna Karenina' because the court filings in this case were longer than that book.</p><p>The trial is expected to last about two weeks.</p></p> Tue, 16 Aug 2011 12:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/testimony-begin-wiener-wars-trial-90639 Hot dog wars: Kraft, Sara Lee battle over claims in ads http://www.wbez.org/story/hot-dog-wars-kraft-sara-lee-battle-over-claims-ads-90549 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-15/chicago hot dog_flickr_Jen Waller.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Updated at 1:40 p.m. on 8/15/11</strong></p><p>A legal beef between the nation's two largest hot dog makers is under way in federal court in Chicago, where a judge will determine whether Oscar Mayer or Ball Park franks broke false-advertising laws in their efforts to become top dog.&nbsp;</p><p>At issue?&nbsp; Which Chicago-based brand can say it makes the country's greatest hot dog.</p><p>Judge Morton Denlow said "let the weiner wars begin" as he invited lawyers to begin opening remarks Monday.</p><p>West suburban-based Sara Lee is suing north suburban-based Kraft over claims made on its hot dog packaging and ads. Kraft owns Oscar Mayer while Sara Lee runs Ball Park.</p><p>Sara Lee argued a Kraft ad campaign falsely claimed it won a national taste test, when there were alleged flaws in the way those tests were conducted. An attorney for Sara Lee said taste testers weren't given the option to put condiments on the hot dogs. When he suggested consumer should've been allowed to put on ketchup, the judge jokingly said that's an area of great dispute.</p><p>Sara Lee's attorney also focused on Oscar Mayer's claims that it has a brand of hot dogs that are 100% pure beef. Sara Lee argues those dogs also contain other ingredients, like water and spices, and therefore aren't 100% pure. Kraft contends the beef is pure; there's no mystery meat. The lawsuit dates back to 2009.</p><p>Erin Lash, an analyst for Morningstar who follows both companies, said there's good reason the brands find it worth suing each other over ads: the sales.</p><p>"We're dealing with a very competitive space and retail meats, in particular, can be a category where consumers tend to consider price rather than brand when making purchase decisions," Lash said.</p><p>In court filings, neither company disclosed a specific dollar amount lost because of the others' ads.&nbsp;</p><p>But the food-industry giants underscored how high the stakes are by filing thousands of pages of legal documents over three years of litigation. Judge Denlow also joked with attorneys that the court filings were longer than "Anna Karenina."</p><p>The case could clarify how far companies nationwide can go when boasting that their product is better than a competitor.</p><p>Judge Denlow will determine the verdict, rather than a jury.</p></p> Mon, 15 Aug 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/hot-dog-wars-kraft-sara-lee-battle-over-claims-ads-90549