Sears In Illinois: Hoffman Estates Approves Resolution To Keep Retailer In State

Hoffman Estates village trustees voted, unanimously, to approve a resolution urging the state of Illinois to make "all reasonable efforts" to keep the headquarters of Sears Holdings Corp. in their village.

Sears' headquarters, based in the Chicago suburb since the early 1990s, provides over 6,000 jobs to the community. Hoffman Estates Mayor William McLeod said, according to the Daily Herald, that the company's exit from the village "would be devastating to the entire state of Illinois and the Northwest suburbs, not just Hoffman Estates and the immediate area."

Sears has been hinting for months that they may leave Illinois once their state and local tax incentives expire in 2012. Last week, a source close with negotiations said that company representatives have toured potential sites for new headquarters in Austin, Texas, and Columbus, Ohio, in addition to meeting with representatives of the governors of both states.

The only opposition voiced to the village trustees' vote on Monday came from representatives of the Carpentersville group Community Unit District 300, the Daily Herald reports. They hope to end the tax break that Sears receives and reroute the property tax money to support area schools.

A spokeswoman for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said last week that the governor's office is engaged in ongoing talks with the company over their future in the state.

"Sears plays an important role in our state's economy, which is why the governor and his administration are continuing extensive talks with the company," Quinn spokeswoman Annie Thompson told the Associated Press. "The governor's door is always open to business leaders to continue discussing other ways we can improve Illinois' business climate to create more jobs and expand the economy."

The Schaumburg village board was also, on Tuesday, anticipated to pass a similar resolution urging the state to do whatever it takes to make Sears, the fifth-largest company headquartered in Illinois, stay put.

Meanwhile, a recently launched petition has garnered over 8,500 signatures from individuals urging Quinn to end Sears' tax breaks -- incentives they say cost area schools $14 million each year. The petition is slated to be presented to state lawmakers at a community meeting Oct. 13.

Other big companies -- including the CME Group Inc., which owns the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Chicago Board Options Exchange and Caterpillar Inc. -- have also threatened to leave the state unless their tax breaks are reinstated.

A CEO survey, released by Development Counsellors International last month, identified Illinois as having among the worst business climates in the country. Nearly 25 percent of the 322 corporate executives surveyed said Illinois was unfavorable due to high taxes and "anti-business climate/regulation."