MEDC offers Sears incentive to move to Michigan: report

Posted on June 27, 2011

Sears Holdings Corp., which has expressed interest in moving its headquarters out of Illinois, is being courted with a $50-million incentive package offered by Michigan.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. and officials in Wayne and Oakland counties are attempting to lure the retail chain to southeast Michigan, according to a Detroit Free Press report Friday. The publication, citing unnamed sources familiar with the issue, said local Michigan agencies have floated tax breaks in addition to suggesting buildings in Dearborn and Southfield as potential sites.

Mike Shore, director of corporate communications for the MEDC, told Crain’s on Saturday that he could not confirm the report that Michigan was trying to attract Sears.

“We don’t comment on deals that may or may not be in the works,” he said.

Sears has expressed its dissatisfaction with recent Illinois legislation that has temporarily hiked the corporate tax rate to 7 percent from 4.8 percent and has said it would consider moving out of state. The Hoffman Estates-based retailer, parent of Kmart and Sears department stores, has been in talks with representatives from Washington, D.C., North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and New Jersey, according to news reports.

A Sears representative was not available for comment, but the company has repeatedly issued the same statement on its future.

“It’s very important for everyone to understand that we have made no decisions at this point,” the company said in a statement first issued last month. “We do owe it to our associates and shareholders to consider options and alternatives and intend to be very thoughtful and thorough in our deliberations.”

If Sears were to take Michigan up on its offer, it would mark a homecoming of sorts. Sears Roebuck & Co. bought Troy, Mich.-based Kmart Corp. in 2005 to form Sears Holdings.

Gov. Pat Quinn has said he would work with Sears to find a way to keep it from leaving Illinois.

The retailer is among 107 companies that will see tax breaks expire in the next three years, a situation that could lead to a number of defections.

From Crain’s Chicago