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State Working Hard To Keep Sears In Illinois

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Sears Sign (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Sears Sign (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (CBS) — Sears and Chicago have gone hand-in-hand longer than anyone living today has been alive, and now, the State of Illinois is working hard to keep Sears from moving out of state.

As CBS 2’s Kris Habermehl reports, Sears has been around the Chicago area for nearly 125 years, and 20,000 employees are based in Illinois.

Crain’s Chicago Business reports on Tuesday, Sears Holdings Corp. chief executive officer Lou D’Ambrosio and other executives met with Illinois State Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) to determine what would keep Sears in Illinois. The meeting was held at Sears’ headquarters in Hoffman Estates.

No deal was struck at the meeting, Crain’s reported, but Sears and the state did make progress.

Sears said in a statement after the meeting it had commenced conversations with elected officials in Illinois “and elsewhere,” and thanked Cullerton and other Illinois lawmakers for their attention, Crain’s reported.

Sears is one of many companies that have discussed moving out of Illinois due to a hike in the state’s corporate tax in January, from 9.5 percent from 7.3 percent. Rumors that Sears was considering abandoning Illinois surfaced in May.

The following month, a more specific report by the Washington Post indicated that Sears which also owns K-Mart, had been inquiring about sites near Washington, D.C. Sears has also been looking at Georgia, New Jersey, North Carolina and Texas as possible sites for its headquarters, the Washington Post reported.

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, said in May that the 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 last month. “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.

Gov. Pat Quinn indicated in May that he 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 in May.

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