Sears May Ditch Illinois Headquarters (And 6,000 Jobs) For Better Deal Elsewhere

First Sears sold its famous Chicago tower, now the iconic retailer and former catalog heavyweight is weighing a move out of Illinois -- lock, stock and barrel.

The Associated Press reports that Sears Holdings, which includes both Sears and Kmart operations, says the company is considering taking its business elsewhere -- and with it 6,000 jobs.

Whether Sears, based in the northwest Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates, will take the expensive plunge is doubtful, some experts say.

The rumored move comes just months after Gov. Pat Quinn and the Democrat-led Legislature boosted the state's corporate income tax by 46 percent and the individual income tax rate by 67 percent.

Within hours of the budget's passage in late January, Republican elected officials in other states lined up to criticize the tax hikes and sought to lure businesses out of Illinois.

When word broke that Sears was talking with other states, Quinn quickly said that the state would do what it could to keep Sears in Illinois, AP reported. Hoffman Estates, a village of about 52,000, is doing the same.

Given Sears' struggles -- it lost $174 million in the first quarter of this year, some critics of Illinois' reliance on incentives say that it doesn't make sense for the state to offer the company much, if anything.

"Sears is a great name and a great company, but they are not on the upswing, they're on the downswing," said state Rep. Jack Franks, a Democrat from nearby Marengo.

Franks was sharply critical of tax breaks given this year to cellphone-maker Motorola Mobility, after the Chicago-area company hinted at leaving Illinois.

Still, AP notes, state and local officials may have little leverage in seeking to keep Sears without some concessions.

As one commercial real-estate expert put it: In tough economic times another city or state might just make Sears an offer it can't refuse.

Next:Verizon Workers Hit Picket Lines From Mass. to Va.

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