Illinois Public Media News

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 09, 2011

Raw Audio: Jon Corzine Testifies Before House Ag Committee

Former U.S. Senator and New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine told a congressional panel Thursday that he never intended to break rules requiring failed securities firm MF Global to safeguard client funds. He also said he doesn't know what happened to an estimated $1.2 billion that went missing. Among those who questioned Corzine on Capitol Hill was Congressman Tim Johnson (R-Urbana).

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

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AP - Illinois Public Media News - December 08, 2011

Sara Lee Moving HQ to Chicago

Chicago will soon be home to another corporate headquarters. Sara Lee announced Thursday it will relocate from the western suburbs to downtown Chicago.

Sara Lee is in the midst of some big changes as a company.

It's scheduled to split into two next year - one company will focus on meats, the other on drinks.

It's the meats company that will call Chicago's West Loop neighborhood home in 2013.

"We would need, as a smaller, more entrepreneurial company, we need to create a lot of buzz and it's very difficult to get that buzz and energy in an area where it's very quiet, so I think we need that environment of Chicago," said Jan Bennink, the executive chairman of Sara Lee.

Bennink said about 500 employees will be shifted from Downers Grove to Chicago.

Meanwhile, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city will give up to 6.5 million dollars to Sara Lee for moving downtown. Emanuel said he's not in a battle with the suburbs to persuade businesses to move to the city - but he did say - "We won."

(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, file)

Categories: Business
Tags: business

AP - Illinois Public Media News - December 08, 2011

Chicago Sun-Times Starts Charging for Online Access

The Chicago Sun-Times and its 39 affiliated suburban newspapers are scheduled to start charging for online subscriptions.

Starting on Thursday, online readers will get 20 free page views across all Sun-Times Media websites every 30 days before hitting a paywall.

"The journalism we generate has value, and we think our readers and viewers will fully understand and support this decision on our part," said Sun-Times Media CEO Jeremy Halbreich.

Sun-Times Media will charge $6.99 for a four-week, unlimited subscription, about $78 annually. Current subscribers to any Sun-Times affiliated newspaper will be charged for $1.99 every four weeks for online access.

Halbreich said he's not concerned about losing readers after the paywall goes into effect.

The Northwest suburban paper The Daily Herald enacted a similar paywall earlier this year.

Categories: Business, Technology

AP - Illinois Public Media News - December 07, 2011

Khan’s Bid to Buy Jaguars Clears First Step

Khan's Bid to Buy Jaguars Clears First Step

The NFL's Finance Committee has voted unanimously to recommend Urbana businessman Shahid Khan's bid to buy the Jacksonville Jaguars to the full ownership committee for a vote next week.

Categories: Business, Education, Sports

AP - Illinois Public Media News - December 05, 2011

Plan Would Close 9 Postal Centers in Illinois

The struggling U.S. Postal Service says it's moving forward with plans to slash its budget by $3 billion by closing more than 250 mail processing centers around the nation, including nine in Illinois.

The cuts announced Monday would slow first-class mail service, ending next-day deliveries of stamped letters.

The list of processing centers to be closed released earlier this year includes facilities in Bloomington, Effingham, Carbondale, Centralia, Chicago, Fox Valley, Quincy, Rockford, and Springfield.

But the fight to save the centers is far from over. A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo says the plan makes no sense and Manzullo is demanding the postal service produce data that justify the move. The plan calls for closing a center in Rockford and moving its operations to Madison, Wis.

Categories: Business, Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 01, 2011

State Retailers Group Back “E-Fairness” Bill

An Illinois retailers group is endorsing bills in Congress that could settle the battle over sales taxes between online sellers and brick-and-mortar stores.

Illinois Retail Merchants Association President David Vite said his group welcomes both versions of the Marketplace Fairness Act, saying they would create uniform nationwide definitions and rules for state sales taxes --- making it easier for online retailers to collect those taxes from buyers in every state. For instance, he said states would have to agree on how they categorize items for tax purposes.

"What is clothing and what is an accessory?" Vite said. "So if clothing is taxed as a tie --- an accessory, or is it part of clothing? If you're selling food, are the definitions the same? That has to occur, and there has to be some very simple remittance requirements --- a single form and those kind of things. And if the state certifies that they do that, they would be eligible to participate."

Stephanie Sack owns the Viva La Femme shops in Chicago, which sell clothes to plus-size women. Speaking at a news conference in support of the bills, Sack said online sellers have an unfair advantage, because they generally don't collect state sales taxes like she does at her stores.

"The advantage that the Internet has - no matter what, where, when, or who - is a government sanctioned 10 percent markdown," Sack said.

Amazon.com has come out in favor of the Marketplace Fairness Act, while some other big online sellers have stayed away. Overstock.com said it supports another bill, called the Equity in Sales Tax Collection Act.

Vite said that bill is similar to the Marketplace Fairness Act, but he said the bill favored by Overstock provides a "small business exemption" for annual sales of up to $30-million --- a level he said is too high.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.) is co-sponsoring the Marketplace Fairness Act in the Senate, while U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) is co-sponsoring it in the U.S. House of Representatives.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - December 01, 2011

Quinn: No ‘Bidding War’ Over Sears

Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn said he's not going to get into a bidding war with other states that are trying to entice Sears to move its corporate headquarters out of Illinois.

The Democratic governor told reporters Thursday that a proposal to give Sears $150 million worth of tax relief is "more than adequate" to keep the company from relocating its headquarters from northwest suburban Hoffman Estates. Illinois lawmakers earlier this week shot down a package of tax incentives that included the Sears tax breaks, but Quinn said he'll work with lawmakers to re-tool the legislation in order to keep the company here.

"It began here in Illinois, it should stay here in Illinois," Quinn said of Hoffman Estates-based company. "I think our particular proposal to Sears is a fair one and I think it's more than adequate."

Quinn was responding to news that the state of Ohio is offering Sears a $400 million package to relocate to the Buckeye State. A spokeswoman for Sears declined to confirm that report.

Sears is giving lawmakers until the end of the year to come up with a package of tax breaks, otherwise the company has threatened to leave the state. A $250 million omnibus tax bill, which included the tax breaks for Sears and Chicago-based CME Group, was overwhelmingly voted down by the Illinois House Tuesday. Both companies have said they may relocate if they don't get some relief from a recent increase in the state's corporate taxes.

Quinn said Thursday he hopes lawmakers can agree on a tax break package by the end of the year, though he stopped short of saying he'd call them back to Springfield for a special session.

"I hope we can get all the folks together - particularly in the House - that did not approve this measure, to take another look," Quinn said.

The governor reiterated his support for a Senate-passed version of the tax package that also includes tax credits for low-income families. Some Republicans had objected to that provision, but Quinn said he's not backing down from it.

Categories: Business, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - December 01, 2011

Caterpillar: Tax Vote Sign of Illinois Dysfunction

Caterpillar Inc. says this week's vote by Illinois lawmakers that killed a package of tax breaks for several companies was a bad signal to send. Illinois is trying to convince the heavy-equipment maker to build a new factory in the state.

Caterpillar's Jim Dugan told The Associated Press that Tuesday's vote was a product of the state's "rudderless, dysfunctional business climate.''

The tax package was intended to hold onto Sears and several financial exchanges that have threatened to leave Illinois.

Peoria-based Caterpillar plans to move about 1,000 jobs from Japan to a North American location still to be decided.

Illinois officials have said they've talked to the company about possibly building the plant in the state. They did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - November 30, 2011

Budget Deal Keeps State Facilities Open

(With additional reporting from The Associated Press)

A budget deal reached among Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and lawmakers will keep seven state facilities open and preserve nearly 2,000 jobs at those locations, at least for now.

The agreement saves the Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln, the Jacksonville Developmental Center and other facilities.

The plan won General Assembly approval Tuesday. Gov. Quinn had targeted a handful of developmental centers, prisons and psychiatric hospitals for shutdown after the legislature failed to provide enough money to keep them operating. Quinn's budget director, David Vaught said layoffs were only considered as a last resort.

"It's very important in a time of recession," Vaught said. "We've lost 20 percent of our state employees over the last eight or nine years. We have the lowest state employee ratio to population of virtually any state. I think one may be tied with us. We are right down at the bottom. We are not overstaffed in state employees."

The plan involves shifting money, although no additional spending was added to the overall budget. The deal will prevent shutdowns and layoffs through the end of the fiscal year in June. Vaught noted that some positions could be lost through attrition.

Vaught said the agreement also calls for reducing state payments to a variety of special-purpose funds. The state's $55 million contribution to the workers' compensation fund, for instance, would be cut by $10 million. About $95 million that ordinarily would go to pension systems would instead be diverted to preventing the closures.

There would be enough reductions that some services in the Department of Human Services could get some additional money, Vaught said. The biggest beneficiaries would be community mental health services, which would get $30 million, and substance abuse programs, which would get $28 million.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - November 29, 2011

ADM Asks Employees to Stay Home Because of Broken Water Main

The Archer Daniels Midland Company is asking all non-essential employees who work in the company's Decatur office to work from home on Wednesday, Nov. 30.

The company's trading floor will be open, and all trading floor employees should report to work in the office.

Other ADM employees are being asked to report to the corporate office building only on an as-needed basis.


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