Tech adviser finds business better downtown

November 8, 2004

BY MICHAEL KRAUSS

As a suburban teen, Michael Parks got a speeding ticket, and appeared in traffic court at 325 N. La Salle.

Now the 42-year-old founder and CEO of the fast-growing tech consultancy Revere Group is going back to court. But things have changed in the meantime.

Parks is moving his firm's headquarters and its 140 employees from Deerfield into the red brick Reid-Murdoch Center, which once housed Chicago's traffic court where Parks appeared as a teen. He'll be on the third floor holding court for a growing list of consulting clients that include CCC Information Services, DeVry Inc., A. J. Gallagher, Hewitt Associates and Nicor.

The firm will initially lease 14,000 square feet, and the move is expected to be complete by mid February.

Parks says the reason for the move is to better serve clients and employees.

"We did an on-line survey of our consulting professionals, and over 80 percent preferred being downtown," said Parks.

All of Revere's 140 local employees will relocate to the Chicago office. The company employs over 300 nationally, and has an office in Bangalore, India.

"We always believed we should be downtown for the clients, but the survey was a surprise," added Parks. "We just assumed the reason people came to work for the Revere Group was our location in the northern suburbs."

Parks credits Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Roper with instigating the move.

"Jerry was a strong advocate for getting us downtown," says Parks. "He opened my eyes to the business benefits of being located downtown."

Parks planned to move three years ago but was unable to sublease his existing Deerfield office space.

The Revere Group obtained no financial incentives from either the city or the state to accommodate the move. Parks said he received active support from World Business Chicago in helping identify the new office space.

Paul O'Connor, executive director of World Business Chicago, sees this move as part of a broader trend. He says employers of knowledge workers -- consultants, researchers, designers, analysts, and other professionals -- increasingly prefer an urban location.

"The talent is downtown. It really is a magnet," said O'Connor, who pointed to the relocation of the research firm Synovate from Arlington Heights and Motorola's opening of a downtown innovation and design center as examples.

"These types of workers prefer to live in the city," said O'Connor. "They want to be able to attend their daughter's soccer games."

Parks agreed adding, "One of the main reasons for the move is to recruit and retain the most talented consulting professionals in the industry."

Revere is the latest in a freshet of companies locating their headquarters downtown. The biggest new HQ will be BP Olefins & Derivatives, the $13 billion plastic-making unit of BP Amoco, which is moving 125 jobs into the Aon Center.

 

 

 ©2004 Marion Consulting Partners