Chemical maker FMC Corp. plans to decide this month whether and where to move its headquarters, currently at 1735 Market Street, says chief executive Pierre Brondeau, who joined the company in 2010 after a career at the former Rohm and Haas and, briefly, ROH's buyer Dow Chemical.
"We will make a decision in September," Brondeau told me. "We have to make a decision by December."
Why move? "I still think it's important for a company our size to have a headquarters that presents who we are and what we do. When you want to recruit people from the other end of the world, you want to show you are a company, for real. But it doesn't have to be a huge building."
What are the options? "New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania," but not necessarily in that order. Since Philadelphia builders, turned off by low rents, didn't build the extra speculative towers that lined New York, Washington, Miami and other East Coast cities in the mid-2000s, there aren't that many high-quality spaces available for 600 people. And he doesn't want to build from scratch.
Will FMC stay in Center City Philadelphia? "I have lots of discussions with Mayor Nutter. He's an exceptional guy. He'll do anything he can to help us stay in Philadelphia. The Office of the Governor has tried to do anything he could to make us interested in Pennsylvania. I'm very attached to Phialdelphia. Personally, I think it's a great city. And I'm a great fan of Michael Nutter.
"My wife is from Chicago, we spent eigh tyears in Boston, but Philadelphia is special, Philadelphia is cool. People are nicer. Oh, yeah. I worked many places in France, in Asia. I showed my family the world. And they all came back here. It's a great place. People make fun of me because I told your (colleague) Bob Fernandez (when he worked at Rohm and Haas), 'When I walk in Rittenhouse Square I could be in Paris.' Philadelphia has all the benefit of a very large city, but it's a town. In Terrazza Cafe I see people I know. Walking around Rittenhouse or Washington Square, it's home. Even the Main Line, we love.