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updated: 6/20/2011 2:51 PM

Under deal, Motorola Mobility could fire hundreds

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  • In May Gov. Pat Quinn announced to Motorola employees that the Motorola Mobility Inc. corporate headquarters will stay in Libertyville

      In May Gov. Pat Quinn announced to Motorola employees that the Motorola Mobility Inc. corporate headquarters will stay in Libertyville
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Associated Press

The state of Illinois' deal to keep Motorola Mobility's headquarters in Libertyville in exchange for more than $110 million in incentives requires the firm to retain far fewer jobs than Gov. Pat Quinn initially announced.

Quinn announced the incentives in May and said the agreement would keep 3,000 jobs at the company's headquarters.

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But the state's contract with the consumer electronics company requires it to keep only 2,500 employees at its headquarters, the Chicago Tribune reported Monday. Motorola Mobility already employs 3,290 there so it could fire almost 800 and still use the tax breaks.

The 3,000 jobs promise, Quinn said, is in the form of a nonbinding promise.

"We have an oral agreement with them," Quinn said. "They told us that they were going to maintain 3,000 employees in their site in Libertyville and we believe them."

Motorola spokeswoman Jennifer Erickson said the incentives are intended to help keep at least 2,500 jobs but also to grow.

But the deal's fine print angers a critic of business incentives.

"If citizens knew that (the company) could fire 790 people and still get the tax credits, I don't think anyone would stand for that," Rep. Jack Franks, a Democrat from Marengo, said.

Franks said the public should know the details of such deals before they're signed. He'd like to lower business taxes across the board rather than cut deals with individual companies.

Motorola's incentives package also included a requirement that the company spend $600 million on infrastructure and other investments in the state.

The governor said that money likely would have gone to a location among those Motorola was considering in Texas and California.

The state has so far committed to more than $200 million in business tax breaks this year through the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity's Economic Development for a Growing Economy, or EDGE, program. That figure likely will top last year's $272 million.

Incentives for 107 companies are due to expire in 2012, 2013 and 2014, meaning those firms could shop around for offers to move elsewhere and, in the process, draw offers for new perks from Illinois to stay put.

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