Washington added to possible Sears sites

Updated 6/20/2011 4:17 PM

Sears Holdings Corp. said Monday it has been in talks with Hoffman Estates officials about keeping its headquarters here, all while speculation circulates about how it could be considering other sites, including the Washington, D.C., area.

A Washington Post article on Sunday cited unnamed sources saying that Sears is considering locations near the nation's capital. But Sears on Monday declined to specify any locations and said no decisions have been made.


"We do owe it to our associates and shareholders to consider options and alternatives and intend to be very thoughtful and thorough in our deliberations," spokeswoman Kimberly Freely said. "We understand that elected officials in Springfield are battling budgetary and other pressing issues. We look forward to working with them at the appropriate time. Speculation about whether Sears will remain in Hoffman Estates is not fair to our associates, particularly so early in this process."

Freely said that "we value our relationships with the village of Hoffman Estates and the state of Illinois."

"It is because of these relationships that the Economic Development Area was created," she said. "The EDA is, in fact, set to expire soon and this is something we can't ignore. To this end, we have had some preliminary discussions with Hoffman Estates and did commission an economic impact study."

Hoffman Estates officials were said they're working hard to keep Sears in their village.

"The village has been actively pursuing all means to try to ensure that Sears remains in Hoffman Estates," said village counsel Arthur Janura.

Sears has about 15 months left on its deal with the village, so anything could happen.

"Sears has been doing its due diligence for its shareholders, and we're still working hard on this. But the process does take time," said Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod.

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The Daily Herald first reported on May 9 that Sears, the parent to Sears Domestic, Sears Canada and Kmart, was in talks to move its headquarters and was considering North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and New Jersey.

The financing behind the tax deal that kept Sears in Hoffman Estates for the last 22 years is expected to expire in the fall of 2012. That led to the introduction of House Bill 3435 in February, which aims to keep Sears in the village for 15 more years.

Janura said that legislation has since passed the House and is pending in the Senate.

Also, an impact study commissioned by Sears said a move could send shock waves into the region with the potential loss of about 6,200 local workers and another 9,000 or so jobs rippling across nearby businesses, vendors and contractors. That was enough to force Hoffman Estates officials to start negotiating to save those local jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenues for the village and schools in Carpentersville-based Community Unit District 300.