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Quinn Fights To Keep Sears, Other Companies In Illinois

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Gov. Pat Quinn

Gov. Pat Quinn. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – The State of Illinois is riddled with debt, Gov. Pat Quinn is spending millions to keep businesses from leaving – Sears, Roebuck and Co. possibly among them.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, the bottom line for companies across the state is cutting cost. But the recent business income tax hike has turned off companies, including Sears.

Quinn, who pushed for the tax increases as a means of trying to balance the suffering budget, is now seeking to entice companies to stay in Illinois.

“I know how to work with the big businesses,” Quinn said.

Sears has been headquartered in Illinois longer than anyone living today has been alive. Richard Warren Sears moved his company from Minneapolis to Chicago and met partner Alvah C. Roebuck in 1887.

But the mayor of Hoffman Estates, where the company is now based, says a departure by Sears is a real threat.

“It’s a real possibility that Sears could relocate,” Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod told CBS 2’s Jim Williams. “They have a responsibility to their shareholders, to make the best deal they can for them.”

Back in 1989, the company threatened to move to North Carolina, so the state put together a package of tax incentives and Sears moved from the Sears Tower – now known as the Willis Tower – to Hoffman Estates.

Now, it appears Quinn may make a similar effort to keep the company in Illinois.

“I’m sure we’ll work out something that will work for the company, but most importantly, work for the common good; for the workers; for the jobs,” Quinn said.

CBS 2 Financial Analyst Terry Savage says Sears is one of many companies considering leaving Illinois, and at a time when the state is struggling financially, Quinn is already offering hefty deals to keep the companies.

On Friday, he offered Motorola Mobility $100 million in financial incentives to keep its corporate headquarters in Libertyville.

Later this week, the state will reportedly offer millions of dollars in tax incentives to Continental Tire.

Published reports say the governor is also expected to offer a $3 million grant for Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, which plan to locate in an old Ryerson Steel facility at 2558 W. 16th St. on the city’s West Side.

As for Sears, a bill is in the works that would keep in place property tax breaks for Sears for another 15 years. State Rep. Fred Crespo (D-Streamwood), whose district includes Hoffman Estates, is the sponsor.

Meanwhile, Quinn has also named a new assistant director for the state Department of Commerce and Opportunity. Dan Seals, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress three times in the North Shore’s 10th District, will take over the post.

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