The historic $500 million Sears deal with Illinois was one of the United States’ first major tax incentive agreements to relocate a corporate headquarters — but in almost every way, it failed to deliver on what was promised.
As companies increasingly relocate to urban centers, sprawling, once-trendy corporate campuses like Sears’ and Kmart’s have been left crumbling in the suburbs.
A Chicago suburb is on the hook for millions to operate the Sears Centre arena — an amount that in some years accounts for as much as 14% of its budget.
Politicians who helped draft Sears’ tax deals said they were designed to retain thousands of corporate jobs. Contractors, landscapers and temporary employees who worked in Sears’ buildings were never meant to help the company qualify for tax breaks.
The Sears Headquarters Deal Cost Taxpayers $500 Million. 30 Years Later, There’s Little to Show for It.
Was the multimillion dollar deal to keep Sears in Illinois worth it? An economic study commissioned by ProPublica and the Daily Herald suggests it wasn’t. Here’s why.
To investigate the Sears deal, ProPublica and the Daily Herald reviewed thousands of pages of records, court filings and internal Sears documents. We also commissioned an economic study to examine the long-term effect of the tax deals.
To lure Sears into a Chicago suburb, officials crafted the largest tax break package ever awarded to a company in Illinois. It resulted in revenue shortfalls, disappearing jobs and unexpected tax burdens, a Daily Herald and ProPublica review showed.