HOFFMAN ESTATES — Sears Holdings Corp. on Thursday identified 79 Sears and Kmart stores that it plans to close after poor Christmas holiday sales.
None of the stores is in Illinois.
But three are in Indiana — a Sears in Anderson, and Kmarts in Indianapolis and St. John. Also set to be closed are two Sears stores in Missouri, both a Sears and a Kmart in Wisconsin and two Kmarts in Iowa.
The list, Sears said, is of 79 of the 100 to 120 store closings that were announced by the company earlier this week. The number of jobs to be lost and the dates of the store closings will be disclosed later.
Meanwhile, area legislators had varied reactions to Sears' announcement of the store closings, which came shortly after the Hoffman Estates-based company received state and local tax breaks that could total as much as $275 million. The company had threatened to leave Illinois if it did not get the concessions.
Although some Chicago-area lawmakers were critical of Sears' announcement of store closings, local legislators for the most part were not.
"It's part of the economy," said state Sen. Shane Cultra, R-Onarga, who voted for the tax break.
"The bailout they got was for Hoffman Estates, their main headquarters. That doesn't have anything to do with their stores. They've got 3,500 or so stores and they're talking about closing the poor performing ones. That just makes good business sense in tough economic times."
Rep. Jason Barickman, R-Champaign, the only area lawmaker to vote against the aid to Sears, said lawmakers were asked to pick winners and losers.
"What we in government need to do is focus on the broader business environment and not try to pick winners and losers," he said.
The potential closure of Illinois stores "was never discussed," Barickman said. "There were those of us who opposed this, not based on whether Sears or the others businesses' performance or future performance, but more on the logic of giving tax relief to some without helping the rest of Illinois businesses."
Barickman said he believes the debate over state tax breaks to Sears and the exchange operators CME Group Inc. and CBOE Holdings Inc. was a "missed political opportunity" to enact broader tax relief.
"We had an opportunity to discuss a more broad-based reform and to fundamentally address the core issues affecting the business community," he said.
"Instead of having that difficult discussion the majority did what was easiest, to put a Band-Aid on the fact that Sears, CME and others were talking about leaving."
Now, he said, "we lost a bit of the energy for that conversation because a CME-type business is no longer going to be on the front line arguing for reforms. They're now going to say that they got what they asked for so they'll quiet down and not be in the news."
Both Reps. Chad Hays, R-Catlin, and Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, argued that the so-called Sears bill also included provisions that made the legislation worthwhile to downstate Illinois.
"The part I favored the least was the Sears portion. Had the Sears dynamic been an independent bill, I likely would have voted against it," Hays said.
"The reason I voted for the bill was because I thought the mercantile exchange had a legitimate concern and more importantly in my district, the higher estate tax threshold is extraordinarily important for our agricultural community. And there were other tax credits that I thought were important."
Rose said the benefits in the bill to downstate Illinois were "huge."
"Think about the net operating loss deduction, which affects every small business in Illinois. It's a jobs creator," he said.
"Think about the ethanol credit, which helps agribusiness. And doubling the death tax exemption was absolutely huge.
"The research and development tax credit is a huge for Caterpillar and other companies around here. This helped your two biggest jobs industries, small business and agribusiness."