Downers Grove, Ill. – Sara Lee Corporation will relocate its new North American Meats corporate headquarters in early 2013 to 400 S. Jefferson Street in Chicago, bringing at least 500 positions to the city, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced on Dec. 8.

Earlier this year, Sara Lee announced it intends to split into two separate pure-play companies in the first half of calendar year 2012, an International Coffee and Tea business and a North American Meats company.

“This is a huge win for the city of Chicago, as Sara Lee Corporation has chosen the city to be the home of the new North American Meats company,” Emanuel said. “The new company will bring these high-paying jobs to the city, as well as its first-class brands and leadership in this key sector.”

The company will support at least up to 650 jobs at the new Chicago office. It will receive between $5 million and $6.5 million in tax increment financing (TIF) assistance, based on the number of jobs created, pending Community Development Commission and City Council approval. The proposal for the TIF will go before the Community Development Commission on Dec. 13.

“Today, we strengthen our long relationship with our hometown, the city of Chicago,” said Jan Bennink, executive chairman, Sara Lee Corporation. “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.”

“We are a meats company, with leading brands such as Aidells, Ball Park, Hillshire Farm and Jimmy Dean, and our new headquarters will showcase our products and create a work environment that inspires our employees’ passion for our business ” Bennink added.

The new Sara Lee Meats facility will feature high sustainability standards, with LEED certification. The company is investing a lot of money into its headquarters, and will promote significant additional revenue for the city through sales and hotel taxes, the company said.

Sara Lee hopes this effort will form a new industry cluster, centered on food-related companies. The company said it intends to work with the City of Chicago to encourage other food-related companies to relocate to Chicago.