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updated: 1/14/2014 1:32 PM

EquiTrust plans offices for Chicago, to add 200 workers

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  • Basketball legend turned entrepreneur Earvin "Magic" Johnson tours the Sports Museum of America in New York in this 2012 file photo.

    Basketball legend turned entrepreneur Earvin "Magic" Johnson tours the Sports Museum of America in New York in this 2012 file photo.
    Associated Press

Daily Herald Staff Report

EquiTrust Life Insurance Co., connected to Hall of Fame basketball player Earvin "Magic" Johnson, is opening new offices in downtown Chicago that will help create 200 jobs and could employ hundreds more in years to come.

EquiTrust also said that Johnson, chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, is becoming a controlling shareholder of the company.

EquiTrust Life, which also has offices in Des Moines, Iowa, distributes fixed-rate and indexed annuities and life insurance through a national network of more than 14,500 independent agents.

"This city and state contain a vibrant business community, with an outstanding workforce pool," EquiTrust CEO Jeff Lange said. "We are pleased to be here. We believe it is an excellent place from which to continue implementing EquiTrust's growth strategy and find increasingly better ways to serve the company's various constituents."

Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made the announcement Tuesday.

"I welcome EquiTrust to Chicago and look forward to the hundreds of new employees who will be joining the most outstanding workforce in the world and calling Chicago home," Emanuel said. "Chicago is a thriving center for the insurance industry and EquiTrust will only add to this leadership in the future."

Magic Johnson Enterprises products and services focus primarily on ethnically diverse and underserved urban communities through strategic alliances, investments, consulting and endorsements.

Johnson has roots in Chicago's educational landscape and in September 2013 was joined by Quinn to launch his new organization, "Friends of Magic." The movement aims to provide at-risk students with the tools they need to graduate high school and have a successful future. The announcement took place at the newly established North/South Lawndale Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy, one of two Chicago-area blended-learning programs that provides students who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out of school with a free alternative path to earn a high school diploma in an environment that fits their schedule, circumstances and learning needs. Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academies are in six states with a total enrollment of 1,675.

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