Nokia will move its Mobile Phones Xpress Internet Services division from Itasca to Chicago, starting later this year, bringing 150 jobs to the West Loop.
The company and Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the move Tuesday morning at 425 W. Randolph St., where the Finnish technology company has its Chicago office. Nokia also plans to add 100 local tech jobs to its Location & Commerce business. Nokia expanded that business with its 2008 acquisition of digital mapping company Navteq and is making a big push with its mapping services, particularly on mobile phones and in-dash vehicle navigation systems.
"We've been perfecting digital maps for more than 15 years in the Chicago area," said Ogi Redzic, vice president, traffic, at Nokia Location & Commerce. "To help achieve that, we're actively recruiting for employees in Chicago."
The Chicago office, with approximately 1,200 employees, is Nokia's largest in North America. The move from Itasca and the new hires will push the headcount close to 1,500. There were no financial incentives involved in moving the Nokia team from Itasca to Chicago.
Emanuel met with Stephen Elop, global CEO of Nokia, on Aug. 1, to discuss the corporate move and the company's broader plans for Chicago. On Tuesday, the mayor returned to his frequent theme of touting Chicago's standing as a high-tech job center.
"We are making Chicago not only a center for technology, a center for research and development, a center for -- now, we are in fact, the technology will now be developed, enhanced and shipped around the world to Nokia's centers in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and other developing economies," Emanuel said. "Now, I think this is another example, when it comes to what I would say is the Second City, we are not second to anybody in developing this technology."
Nokia is expanding its Chicago workforce despite layoffs in other divisions. The Location & Commerce unit also has operations in Boston and Berlin. Nokia has sensor-equipped cars driving around 190 countries to gather mapping data and provides turn-by-turn navigational guidance in about 110 countries.
In August, Nokia announced a partnership with Chicago-based daily deals company Groupon to integrate real-time Groupon Now! offers into the Nokia Maps function on Lumia smartphones. Lumia devices run Microsoft's Windows Phone operating software. Nokia is anchoring its smartphones on Windows mobile software as part of a partnership with Microsoft sealed last year.
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