ST. LOUIS (AP) — At opposite ends of Illinois, St. Louis and Chicago have famously parried for more than a century: St. Louis snatched the 1904 Olympics even after Chicago had been named the host city, and the disdain between St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs fans fuels one of baseball’s biggest rivalries.
Now the competitors are facing off on a new field of play in trying to woo the new global headquarters of Archer Daniels Midland Co., an agricultural giant that has been based for decades in the central Illinois city of Decatur, roughly halfway between the two cities. The multibillion-dollar company announced last week it needed better access to its global customers, including an international airport. But it isn’t just about the 200 executive and information technology jobs that are part of the deal. It’s also about prestige and bragging rights — and no doubt tax revenue from the high-paying boardroom jobs— that come with landing a company that’s among the world’s biggest players in agricultural processing, ranked No. 27 on the Fortune 500 list. Houston, Minneapolis and Indianapolis also have been mentioned as contenders, though ADM is staying mum about its selection process. Chicago has been floated as a favorite by experts, largely because it’s home to the nation’s second busiest international airport and behemoth businesses including McDonald’s, Sears and aircraft-maker Boeing Co. But that hasn’t discouraged its old rival some 300 miles away, which is promoting itself as an agribusiness mecca that already includes the seed giant Monsanto Co.
“We’ve gotta have our swagger,” said Katy Jamboretz, who works for the St. Louis region’s economic development agency. “This would be a huge victory if we were to land a company of that stature.”
If St. Louis has a sporting chance, some submit fan loyalty could play some role: Decatur is downstate Illinois, where at least as many baseball fans root for the Cardinals as the Cubs, maybe including some top ADM executives.