Google finance hub expansion will be coming to West Loop
June 7, 2019

Photo courtesy Glassdoor. https://www.glassdoor.com/Photos/Google-Office-Photos-E9079.htm
Google already employs about 1,000 people at its Fulton Market location, and more jobs will come to the area when the company expands its operations.

By Nathan Worcester

The City recently announced Google had selected Chicago and the West Loop for its new finance hub. The move comes as part of the tech giant’s multi-billion-dollar national expansion plan. It also hit the West Loop just months after Google announced it would lease 132,000 square feet in a 12-story building under construction at 210 N. Carpenter St.

With this growth, Google is building on its 18 years in Chicago and its presence in Fulton Market, which dates to November of 2015. Its Fulton Market office at 1000 W. Fulton Ave., a Sterling Bay property, already employs roughly 1,000 people.

“The new jobs are on our finance team, devising innovative solutions to complex problems in forecasting, accounting, compliance, and project management,” said Rob Biederman, Google’s head of external affairs for the Midwest. “Overall, our expansion will create hundreds of jobs with room to grow.”

Asked whether Google intended to expand to any other buildings or neighborhoods beyond those already announced, Biederman stated, “We don’t have any additional plans to share at this time.”

BOLD internships

With several high schools and universities in the area, Google internships may be a possibility.

“Over the years we’ve hosted undergraduate and graduate engineering interns, MBA interns, and undergraduate interns through our BOLD [Building Opportunities for Leadership and Development] internship program across various local teams in Chicago,” said Biederman.

Google started the BOLD program “to expose historically underrepresented students in this field to career opportunities in the industry.” A Google statement about BOLD noted “students who identify with a group that is historically underrepresented in the technology industry, including but not limited to Black, Hispanic, Native American, students with disabilities, and veterans, are encouraged to apply.”

A 2018 Google diversity report concluded the company needs “to do more to achieve its desired diversity and inclusion outcomes.” Google’s workforce, according to the report, is 53.1% white, 36.6% Asian, 4.2% two or more races, 3.6% Latinx, 2.5% black, and 0.3% Native American. Its gender breakdown is 69.1% male and 30.9% female.

Both the 1000 W. Fulton Ave. site and the 210 N. Carpenter St. sites sit in the 27th Ward. Alderman Walter Burnett Jr. expressed to Gazette Chicago his strong support for Google. In line with comments by Biederman, he confirmed the City has not supported the Google expansion through tax breaks, tax increment financing, or any similar programs.

“I think Google is working aggressively to get people from Chicago to work for them,” said Burnett. “They’re working with a lot of not-for-profit organizations in order to get young people prepared to work in industries like theirs. They’re not just trying to recruit from all over. They’re trying to get homegrown people also.”

He cited Google’s specific outreach with local elementary schools as well as its more general efforts to recruit female and minority talent through BOLD and similar initiatives.

Community concerns

Some residents voiced skepticism over the Google expansion’s feasibility and the company’s overall effect on the neighborhood.

“I’m concerned by the fragmented office approach,” said Moshe Tamssot, founder of TrueWestLoop.com and administrator of the True West Loop Facebook group. “In time, they’ll realize the inefficiencies and will start looking to consolidate. Since they’re tight with Sterling Bay, I could see them being wooed to Lincoln Yards.

“All the developers have been using Google and others as justification to raise rents into speculative ranges,” Tamssot added. “They’re squeezing out the pioneers, and even chains can’t survive, as the promised density has been slow to arrive.”

In response to Tamssot’s concerns about affordability, Kevin Bargnes of the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development said, “DPD worked closely with Ald. Burnett, Ald. Proco Joe Moreno [1st Ward], and Ald. Jason Ervin [28th Ward] to institute an Affordable Requirements Ordinance pilot program to test the removal of in-lieu affordable housing fees in two rapidly gentrifying areas along the Milwaukee Corridor and on the Near West Side, where many long-term residents are struggling with the impact of private investment on their taxes and rents. This includes the West Loop.”

For more information, contact Burnett at (312) 432-1995, the DPD at (312) 744-3653, or Google at (312) 840-4100.