I can’t remember a better written explanation of what the General Assembly did for Sears in 1989 and last year than what James Krohe, Jr., has written this week in Illinois Times.
“By the late 1980s, Sears & Roebuck had lost the knack of selling America its school clothes and car tires like it used to.”However, it was still able to sell the governor of Illinois, the General Assembly and the mayor of Hoffman Estates a suit with no pants and make each think he got a bargain.
“Sears had decided to move its main merchandise group out of the Sears Tower in downtown Chicago. There was talk – nudge, nudge, wink, wink – that it might relocate in a place like Texas.
“To make Illinois safe for Sears, the General Assembly in 1989 gave the company tax breaks and infrastructure improvements over the next 20 years, no strings attached, so the company could move to suburban Hoffman Estates. That was in the middle of nowhere, but at least the nowhere was in Illinois.
“No royal charter granted to found a faraway colony ever gave a court favorite so much power to exploit the indigenous peoples.
“Using funds generated by a new TIF-like Economic Development Area (EDA) that diverted property tax revenues from local schools, the town bought nearly 800 acres of eminently developable land worth nearly a quarter-billion dollars and gave it outright to Sears.
“It also reimbursed Sears for any monies it expended in developing a lucrative business park there, including the cost of its own new corporate headquarters.
“’Considered on an acreage-per-job-retained basis, the deal set a precedent that was ominous in its generosity,’ I wrote in the late and much lamented magazine Chicago Times.
“If Ameritech or Amoco threatens to leave [Illinois], the gov will have to give them Kane County, just like the feds gave Utah to the Mormons.”