Was Sears’ $500m in Tax Breaks Worth It for Illinois?

 
Construction workers put finishing touches on the exterior at Prairie Stone, site of Sears, Roebuck and Co.'s then-new retailing headquarters in Hoffman Estates on July 30, 1992. Seventeen years after it topped Chicago's skyline with the world's tallest building, Sears aimed to make a similar impact on suburban office-park design.

Construction workers put finishing touches on the exterior at Prairie Stone, site of Sears, Roebuck and Co.'s then-new retailing headquarters in Hoffman Estates on July 30, 1992. Seventeen years after it topped Chicago's skyline with the world's tallest building, Sears aimed to make a similar impact on suburban office-park design.

Mark Elias/AP

Nowadays, you can get whatever you want on the Internet — this is how Amazon came to be known as “the everything store.”

But not long ago, if you wanted to be able to shop for clothes, tools, toys, a haircut, and new tires, there’s a good chance your “everything store” was a company based right here in Illinois: Sears, Roebuck & Co.

Keeping Sears in Illinois, however, came at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks for the retail giant. Was it worth it?

This was the question driving a recent investigation by David Bernstein for ProPublica and the Daily Herald newspaper, based in Chicago’s northwest suburbs.

Read the articles in the series: