Sara Lee Corp. is moving its headquarters to downtown Chicago in 2013 after it completes its split into two units.
The food maker announced earlier this year that it will split into two separate companies in the first half of 2012 with one focused on international beverages and a second focused on meats. Names for the two companies will be unveiled at a later date.
While the company has not selected its headquarters for its international beverage business, it is expected to be based overseas. Its North American meats business will be based in downtown Chicago.
Sara Lee said Thursday the move will bring at least 500 positions to the city from its current location just outside the city and potentially up to 650 jobs total.
"This move will put our new company's headquarters in the heart of one of the world's business capitals and will be one of the key elements of building our more nimble, creative and innovative culture," Sara Lee Executive Chairman Jan Bennink said in a statement.
The Sara Lee meats business sells brands such as Ball Park, Hillshire Farm and Jimmy Dean meats. The company said it hopes the relocation will help form a new industry cluster, centered on food-related companies. Sara Lee said it plans to work with the city to encourage other food-related companies to relocate to Chicago from the surrounding area and across the nation.
The city of Chicago said Sara Lee could receive between $5 million and $6.5 million in tax incremental financing, an economic development tool that shifts local tax money to developers and others, based on the total number of jobs created. That still requires approval by Chicago's City Council and Community Development Commission.