Sears Thursday announced 100 people will be laid off at its Hoffman Estates headquarters, despite millions of dollars in forthcoming tax incentives. The news comes a few months after the Illinois legislature agreed to give the company, which runs the Hoffman Estates Economic Development Area bearing its name, $150 million in tax breaks over the next 10 years. In December, it was announced between 100 and 120 Sears and K-Mart stores would close nationwide, none of which are in Illinois.
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Does this layoff announcement violate the spirit of the legislation passed? “I’m not sure. I wish I had an answer to that,” says State Sen. Michael Noland (D-Elgin). “But I do know that, you know, if they’d announced these layoffs prior to the passage of that legislation, they would have had a much tougher go than they did.” Sears has to maintain 4,200 jobs in its economic development area. It has no obligation to maintain a minimum job number at its corporate headquarters. Even with today’s layoff announcement, the EDA still exceeds the minimum number of jobs required to keep the tax incentives. A Sears spokesman says the layoffs “absolutely” do not violate the spirit of the tax breaks. “We’ve known that the situation with Sears is much worse than had been reported,” says Noland. “The financials have been worsening for a number of years, and [the layoffs come] as no shock.”