Greising: Demise of Sears Stains the Business Image of the Chicago Region

The story of Sears’ failure is one of corporate hubris, failed financial engineering, an inability to respond to competitors — and even a waste of public money.

A sign announcing the store will be closing hangs above a Sears store on August 24, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

BGA President David Greising writes every other week for the Chicago Tribune Opinion section.

Writing about Sears Holdings Corp.’s bankruptcy is a bit like dusting off a corporate obituary that’s been in the works for years: Sears Holdings, the former Sears, Roebuck & Co. that once dominated retailing in the United States, succumbed to a long illness Monday.

Sure, a bankruptcy filing is not quite a death knell. Sears can still reorganize in bankruptcy court and could even have a chance at survival. Hundreds of stores could stay open, and thousands of jobs could be saved. Or it could wind up in liquidation. Too soon to tell.

But, the story of Sears’ failure is one of corporate hubris, failed financial engineering, an inability to respond to competitors — and even a waste of public money. Well before Sears filed for bankruptcy, it was clear Illinois taxpayers would not see a full return on the $250 million in tax breaks and incentives the company got for moving into the Prairie Stone complex in Hoffman Estates.

The bankruptcy is the latest corporate catastrophe in a line of once-powerful Chicagoland businesses that dates back to at least the early 1980s.

Read the rest at chicagotribune.com.

About the Author

David Greising

Greising is President & CEO of the Better Government Association. For the past 35 years, Greising has been a high-profile journalist locally and nationally, reporting on news such as the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, industrial accidents, corporate bankruptcies, government investigations, Illinois’ fiscal health, and community unrest following police actions.