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Motorola Mobility Moving to Chicago's Merchandise Mart

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Mayor says relocation of 3,000 employees to city is a "game change" in making Chicago the tech center of the Midwest. Mary Ann Ahern reports.

    Motorola Mobility is getting a new address, and that address is getting about 3,000 new employees.

    The Libertyville-based division of Motorola, which recently merged with Google, will move to Chicago's Merchandise Mart.

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    The mayor sat down with Mary Ann Ahern to discuss his vision to turn Chicago -- specifically the Merchandise Mart -- into a tech hub for the Midwest.

    The wireless company will occupy the top four floors and the roof of the Mart, totaling about 600,000 square feet. The lease is for 15 years.

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Thursday called the move "a game-changer" and said Chicago is rising as the digital tech capital of the Midwest.

    "It could have been Illinois versus California or the far east," Emanuel said during a sit-down interview in his office before the official announcement. "It's not Chicago verus suburbs. It's Chicago and Illinois versus other cities and other states around the world, and we have a huge advantage, and if we focus on our advantages and build on our strengths, there'll be more companies like Google who will decide to locate their operations and headquarters here."

    The city didn't provide any financial incentive for the move, but the company has received incentives to remain in the state.

    "Illinois is Motorola Mobility’s home, and we’re thrilled to bring our employees to downtown Chicago and infuse our company with the vibrant energy of the city," CEO Dennis Woodside said in a statement. "We’re 84 years young, and what better place to continue our commitment to the state, honor our heritage, recruit top talent and usher in a new era of wireless innovation than in the historic Merchandise Mart."

    Employees will transition from Libertyville to Chicago over the next year, and none will remain in Libertyville, Woodside said, according to Crain's Chicago Business. The company is looking for an alternate use for its Libertyville space but has made no decisions yet, he said.

    A move to the Windy City was rumored in May when local reports indicated Google was reportedly shopping for more than 500,000 square feet of office space downtown for the mobile phone company.

    Google's Chicago office, on Kinzie Street in the River North neighborhood, were too small to accommodate Motorola Mobility's full staff, Woodside told the Chicago Tribune. In addition, the company needed extensive space for engineering labs.