WBEZ | tax incentives http://www.wbez.org/tags/tax-incentives Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Sears and Kmart to close 100 plus stores http://www.wbez.org/story/sears-and-kmart-close-100-plus-stores-95155 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20100223_san_72657_Sear_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>Sears and Kmart will be closing more than 100 stores after disappointing holiday sales revenue, that announcement coming just two weeks after the state of Illinois guaranteed parent company Sears Holding Corp. millions in tax breaks to keep its headquarters in Northwest Suburban Hoffman Estates.</p><p>The announcement brought swift reaction from state officials.</p><p>At an unrelated press event Tuesday, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said the company didn't mention retail store closures during negotiations on the tax break package. He said the closings don't affect the company's agreement to stay in Illinois and that individual stores were not part of the discussion.</p><p>"We hope the company does better," said Quinn. "But as far as their headquarters and all that goes at the headquarters, that is what the agreement was about."</p><p>But State Sen. Ira Silverstein, a Chicago Democrat, said he feels betrayed by Sears and said company officials should explain if they were aware of the closings while they were negotiating with lawmakers.</p><p>"When we give a package and incentive like this and try to keep a corporation here in Illinois, they should at least tell us what they're going to be doing not so much in the far future, but the near future," said Silverstein.</p><p>WBEZ asked Sears Holding Corp. whether company officials were aware of the closures as it negotiated with state lawmakers, but the company declined to directly answer that question.</p><p>"It’s important to know that under the legislation that was recently passed if we don’t meet our obligations we receive no benefits," a representative for Sears said in a statement.</p><p>Sears Holdings Corp. owns both Sears and Kmart. The corporation says same-store revenue fell 5.2 percent to date for the quarter at Sears and K-Mart. The holiday season is the most crucial time of year for retailers to haul in a profit, and this year Kmart and Sears fell way short of their goals.</p><p>Both stores blame revenue drops on diminished consumer electronic sales. Kmart also had less inventory on layaway and lackluster clothing sales this year, and Sears saw a decline in home appliances, too.</p><p>Sears has more than 4,000 stores in the US and Canada. Closing 100 to 120 stores is expected to generate more than $140 million dollars in cash inventory sales. Sears Holding Corp. anticipates additional proceeds from the sale or sublease of real estate holdings.</p><p>Earlier this month Illinois passed a huge corporate tax incentives bill to keep companies like Sears headquartered in Illinois. The company was threatening to leave the state if it wasn't given tax breaks.</p><p>According to analysts, the weaker-than-expected performance reflects a deteriorating outlook for the retailer.</p><p>The results point to "deepening problems at this struggling chain and renewed worries about Sears survivability," said Gary Balter, an analyst at Credit Suisse. "The extent of the weakness may be larger than expected but the reasons behind it are not. It begins and some would argue ends with Sears' reluctance to invest in stores and service."</p><p>Balter also said Sears' weakening performance may lead its vendors to start to worry about their exposure.</p><p>The company has seen rival department stores like Macy's Inc. and discounters like Target Corp. continue to steal customers. It's also contending with a stronger Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, which has hammered hard its low-price message and brought back services like layaway, which allows financially stressed shoppers to finance their holiday purchases by paying a little at a time.</p><p>The tough economy hasn't helped, either. Middle-income shoppers, the company's core customers, have seen their wages fail to keep up with higher costs for household basics such as food.</p><p>But the big problem, analysts say, is Sears hasn't invested in remodeling, leaving its stores uninviting.</p><p>"There's no reason to go to Sears," said New York-based independent retail analyst Brian Sozzi, "It offers a depressing shopping experience and uncompetitive prices."</p><p>Sears Holdings appeared to stumble early in the holiday season, as it opened its Sears, Roebuck and Co. stores at 4 a.m. on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Rivals including Best Buy Co., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Toys R Us opened as early as Thanksgiving night. Sears stores had opened on Thanksgiving Day in 2010. Kmart has been opening on Thanksgiving for years.</p><p>A hint that trouble might be brewing came in mid-December when Sears Holdings unexpectedly announced that 260 of its Sears, Roebuck and Co. locations would stay open until midnight through Dec. 23.</p><p>Kmart's 4.4 percent decline in revenue at stores open at least a year was blamed on diminished layaways and a drop in clothing and consumer electronics sales. Part of K-Mart's layaway softness likely stemmed from competitive pressure. Wal-Mart had said that its holiday layaway business had been popular. Toys R Us expanded its layaway services to include more items. Kmart's grocery sales climbed during the period.</p><p>Sears cited lackluster consumer electronics and home appliance sales for its six percent dropoff. Sears' clothing sales were flat. Sales of Lands' End products at Sears stores rose in the mid-single digits.</p><p>D'Ambrosio acknowledged in his internal memo that criticism over Sears Holdings' performance was likely to come, but that the company was prepared for the days ahead.</p><p>"We will bounce back and become stronger than ever," he said.</p></p> Tue, 27 Dec 2011 13:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/sears-and-kmart-close-100-plus-stores-95155 Emanuel pushes for passage of state tax incentives http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel-pushes-passage-state-tax-incentives-94695 <p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he's staying involved in getting the state's major tax package passed. Last week the tax package including incentives for the CME Group was shot down by the Illinois House of Representatives.</p><p>"I'm working with the legislature and been on the phone regularly to encourage them to continue to stay at this and I know the difficulties - but get this done," Emanuel said in a news conference Wednesday.</p><p>Emanuel said keeping CME in Chicago is critical to the city's economic vitality. He's also in favor of passing the bill's proposed earned income tax credit for the working poor.</p><p>Lawmakers are talking about splitting the bill into several pieces and voting on them separately.</p><p>A special House session on the bill has been called for Monday.</p></p> Thu, 08 Dec 2011 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel-pushes-passage-state-tax-incentives-94695 Illinois House to return for CME, Sears tax breaks http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-house-return-cme-sears-tax-breaks-94667 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20100528_newsintern_658358_Lawm_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois lawmakers will be returning to the state Capitol for another try at passing tax relief for businesses, including some big corporations threatening to leave the state.</p><p>Speaker Michael Madigan announced the House will hold a special session on Monday in another effort to move the bill forward. The bill sailed through the Senate in November.</p><p>But last week the House overwhelmingly rejected the tax break bill that would, in theory, help keep big companies like the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Sears in the state. CME has been threatening to re-locate if a deal isn't brokered soon. Adding pressure are other states trying to woo Sears with big incentives.</p><p>The $250 million tax package also includes breaks for small businesses and low-income families. But lawmakers are now talking about splitting up the bill into several pieces and holding multiple votes.</p><p>An aide to House Republican leader Tom Cross said yesterday no decision has been made, and negotiations will continue.</p></p> Wed, 07 Dec 2011 12:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-house-return-cme-sears-tax-breaks-94667 School district upset over proposed Sears legislation http://www.wbez.org/story/school-district-upset-over-proposed-sears-legislation-94395 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-28/Sears Center flickr by soumit.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A Northwest suburban school district bashed changes made to an Illinois tax incentives bill.</p><p>Sears corporate headquarters sits in School District 300, and the district wants any new tax incentives to have new stipulations. After wrestling their way into a seat at the tax bill's bargaining table, the district emerged feeling good about the verbal negotiations.</p><p>But the bill was filed Sunday and <a href="http://www.d300.org/news/29860">a press release by the district</a> said it now violates several agreements made last week, including too much money going to the Village of Hoffman Estates.</p><p>Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod said the District shouldn't be surprised - everything in the bill was discussed last week.</p><p>"I have no idea why some people conduct themselves in such an unprofessional manner. But that's their modus opperandi. Try to smear everybody, and hope some of it sticks," McLeod said.</p><p>McLeod also said that the Village of Hoffman Estates is fine with the bill as it's written.</p><p>The tax bill includes incentives to keep Sears in Illinois. It's expected to be voted on this week.</p></p> Mon, 28 Nov 2011 17:38:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/school-district-upset-over-proposed-sears-legislation-94395 Sears tax arrangement draws questions from Hoffman Estates schools http://www.wbez.org/story/sears-tax-arrangement-draws-questions-hoffman-estates-schools-93842 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20100223_san_72657_Sear_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>Supporters of a northwest suburban school district are worried a plan to give tax breaks to Sears could hurt their district for the next 15 years.&nbsp;</p><p>There's a one-of-a-kind tax district in Hoffman Estates called an Economic Development Area - or EDA. It was designed in the late 1980s to keep Sears in Illinois until 2012 by giving the company tax breaks.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/97/SB/09700SB0397ham002.htm">An amendment filed Monday</a> for the state Senate bill aimed at retaining big companies like Sears would also extend the EDA.&nbsp;</p><p>The EDA's land is in school district 300 and they are thus eligible for property tax money. Allison Strupeck is the Director of Communications for the district. Although her district's schools are not located in Hoffman Estates, she said of the roughly $16 million dollars in school property taxes paid by businesses within the EDA, only $2.9 million actually goes to schools. She said more money should be making it to schools, but that millions are instead going to the Village of Hoffman Estates.</p><p>"We want to make sure that any legislation does not give unnecessary and inappropriate funding to the Village of Hoffman Estates which manages this Economic Development Area," Strupeck said. "Nobody really knows what the Village of Hoffman Estates does with the $5.5 to $6 million dollars that it gets every year in school property taxes from the EDA."</p><p>Strupeck said parents and concerned citizens have filed Freedom of Information Act requests to learn how the Village spends the money it receives, but so far they have not been successful in getting information.</p><p>Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod called district 300's complaints a smear campaign. He said the the EDA gets yearly audits and is regulated by the state. He said audit information is freely available on <a href="http://www.hoffmanestates.com/index.aspx?page=560">the Village's website</a>. He also said money the Village gets from the EDA goes to maintaining the area.</p><p>Both the district and the Village want Sears to stay in Hoffman Estates, but the district is lobbying for additional oversight of the EDA written into the current legislation.</p><p>The House is expected to review the bill Tuesday morning.</p><p><em>Correction: An earlier version of the story misidentified the school district lobbying against the EDA legislation. </em><em>District 300 does not operate any schools in Hoffman Estates.</em></p></p> Tue, 08 Nov 2011 13:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/sears-tax-arrangement-draws-questions-hoffman-estates-schools-93842 Wisconsin governor interrupted by protest http://www.wbez.org/story/wisconsin-governor-interrupted-protest-93735 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-03/protestors pre protest.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was in Illinois Thursday giving advice on budget reform. But his speech was interrupted by Chicago protestors.</p><p>About 30 protesters chanted sayings like, "Hey hey, ho ho, Scott Walker has got to go" and marched with signs in front of the Union League Club starting around 7:30 a.m.</p><p>Meanwhile, about 60 more protesters in suits and ties were sitting obediently at tables during Walker's breakfast talk.</p><p>The Republican governor kicked off his speech by joking about sports, noting how Illinois and Wisconsin both hate the Minnesota Vikings. Then one of the protesters jumped up, yelling, "Mic check!" The other protesters repeated him while Walker and the rest of the room took in what was happening.</p><p>The group, composed of Occupy Chicago protestors and members of the consortium Stand Up! Chicago, used one another like human megaphones. One protester would shout a line out from their collective speech and the rest would repeat it. When Union League workers and Gov. Walker's handlers approached each standing protester delivering their line, another would then pop up and pick up where the speech left off. That process continued for about five minutes until the protesters were ushered out.&nbsp;</p><p>As the chant started, Walker at first tried to continue his talk over the chanting. When it became clear they would not stop, the emcee stepped in and attempted to shout over them, asking them to leave. The rest of the crowd also began clapping to drown out the sound of the protesters, and gave him a standing ovation once the protesters were escorted out of the room.</p><p>Protesters paid the $20 for tickets for each of their seats. Catherine Murrell, the communications coordinator for Stand Up! Chicago said most protesters paid out of pocket, but anyone who could not afford to pay had their ticket paid for by a pool of money collected by Stand Up! Chicago.&nbsp;</p><p>No arrests were made.</p><p>Walker continued his talk after protesters cleared out, touting Wisconsin's reforms and slamming Illinois Democrats for the state's budget problems. &nbsp;</p><p>Walker mentioned the possibility of getting recalled as governor and said he welcomes the challenge. He also said he could use Illinois government officials' handling of the state's budget crisis as a case study for what not to do.</p><p>"Illinois raised taxes earlier this year, rather substantially on both employers and individuals, and instead they didn't solve the budget crisis, Walker said. "They didn't solve their long-term structural crisis."</p><p>Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn has said he does not wish to follow Walker's lead. Quinn has frequently criticized the Wisconsin governor for being unfair to unions.</p></p> Thu, 03 Nov 2011 18:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/wisconsin-governor-interrupted-protest-93735 Sears may take its business elsewhere http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-29/sears-may-take-its-business-elsewhere-88496 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-June/2011-06-29/89974252.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Richard Sears planted his roots in Chicago back in 1887 after hiring a watchmaker named Roebuck. After more than a century in business the famous Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog still offers pretty much everything, from tractors to high chairs. But the company may soon change location. If a series of state and local tax incentives expire next year, Sears may move its headquarters – and thousands of jobs – away from Illinois. And Sears isn’t the only local company considering a change in scenery. Regular business contributor <a href="http://www.chicagonewscoop.org/author/david-greising/" target="_blank">David Greising</a> of the Chicago News Cooperative spoke with <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> on the possible business exodus.</p></p> Wed, 29 Jun 2011 13:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-29/sears-may-take-its-business-elsewhere-88496