On Religion, The Media and Life as a 20-something in Chicago

Sears Holdings Corp. Chief Executive Officer and President Lou D’Ambrosio called Tuesday “an important day in our company’s history.” That’s because the Illinois Senate passed legislation Tuesday to extend the economic development area around Sears corporate headquarters in Hoffman Estates. That came the day after the Illinois House of Representatives approved the same legislation, part of a two-bill package aimed at keeping Sears and other companies in Illinois, as well as aiding the state’s working poor. And that “will allow Sears to maintain its headquarters in the state it has called home for nearly 125 years,” according to a written statement Tuesday from the company. “Clearly state leaders recognize our impact on the state of Illinois and have taken the step necessary to keep Sears Holdings an Illinois company,” D’Ambrosio said in that statement. “Sears Holdings employs 20,000 people in Illinois alone, we work with 9,100 local vendors, contractors and businesses that provide services and goods to the company and we are a significant taxpayer to the state — over $213 million last year and billions over the last 20 years.” The company has said relocation offers from Columbus, Ohio, and Austin, Texas, would look more attractive if those incentives, set to expire at the end of next year, were not extended. It also has said it would decide by the end of this year whether to leave Illinois. In an email to Sears associates obtained by The Courier-News, D’Ambrosio said, “While the legislation still needs to be signed by Gov. Pat Quinn, he has been a strong supporter of ours throughout this process and I believe he will do so. When he does, it is our intention to cease the review of alternative locations and remain in Illinois.” Community Unit School District 300, which includes part of the EDA, has opposed any legislation to extend incentives for Sears since that first was proposed in Senate Bill 540 this spring. That’s because that bill would have sent about $14 million in property taxes from the district instead to the EDA. The Carpentersville-area school district “reluctantly agreed” late last month to the language about the EDA in the legislation passed this week after negotiating with Sears, Hoffman Estates and lawmakers. Senate Bill 397, which passed with 44 yes votes and 9 no, will double the amount of money District 300 will receive from the EDA — from about $3 million each year to $6 million. The bill is a plan to grant tax breaks to CME Group Inc., owner of the Chicago Board of Trade and Chicago Mercantile Exchange; the Chicago Board Options Exchange; and Sears Holdings Corp. It also will extend tax breaks for research and development, as well as for net operating losses to other businesses; grant more-generous estate-tax breaks; and include a $2 million tax incentive designed to draw pre-Broadway shows to Chicago’s theater district. Its companion legislation, Senate Bill 400, passed by a more lopsided margin of 48-4. That is a measure to double the earned income tax credit available to the working poor and increase the standard exemption for all taxpayers by tying it to the rate to inflation. District 300 Superintendent Michael Bregy said just after the vote Tuesday, “It’s difficult to put into words because even though I knew it was very predictable that both the House and Senate would be voting yes, it still feels like a kick in the gut. You know, it’s hard. It’s been a lot. There’s been so much work done by our community.” District 300 reacts Just before he voted against Senate Bill 397, State Sen. Michael Noland, D-Elgin, thanked District 300. District staff, students, parents and residents have made phone calls, sent emails and signed petitions against legislation to extend the EDA over the past three months. About 1,000 traveled to Springfield to protest at the Illinois State Capitol when the general assembly took up that legislation in its veto session, which started in October. Noland thanked them all “for not being satisfied simply standing outside with their noses to the glass, looking at the party and being left out. They kicked down the door and asked to be at the table and they’re taking home something.” The night before, District 300 had thanked its community at a recognition ceremony, part of the regular District 300 Board of Education meeting in the gym at Westfield Community School in Algonquin. There was no indication at all the Illinois General Assembly would reconvene Monday in Springfield when the Carpentersville-area school district planned its recognition ceremony for that day, Bregy said. That sent the superintendent, along with several school board members and district administrators, to Springfield the same night they had planned to recognize the community for its involvement. in the legislative process. But, he said during that ceremony via teleconference, they had to “see this issue through to the end.” And it was at the end, when Bregy was walking out of the Senate after the vote Tuesday afternoon, when one senator stopped to thank him for all the trips he made to Springfield, he said. “I shook his hand, and I said, ‘We’ll be back.’ There’s no doubt. We will be back,’ he said. “It’s difficult to think that many people will think that is over, but it’s really not. It’s just the beginning. We must advocate for ourselves. We must become more legislatively active. Otherwise Springfield will continue to do what they’ve done to us this time.” The Chicago Sun-Times contributed to this report. Copyright 2011, The Courier-News. All rights reserved. For the original story, visit The Courier-News.

In Uncategorized on December 14, 2011 at 10:50 am

Sears EDA bill passes, heads to Quinn to sign (Sun-Times Media)

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