- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 16, 2012

LAYOFFS

Sears lays off 100 at Illinois headquarters

CHICAGO | Sears laid off 100 workers at its headquarters outside of Chicago on Thursday, two months after the company got a hefty tax credit for dropping a threat to move its headquarters out of state.

Sears Holding Corp. spokesman Chris Brathwaite said the layoffs of “about 100 associates” at the company’s headquarters in Hoffman Estates took effect immediately.

Mr. Brathwaite said the job cuts do not violate the terms of a $150 million tax credit for Sears approved by the Illinois General Assembly in December after the company threatened to move its headquarters out of Illinois.

The Sears spokesman said the headquarters workforce remains above the job levels required in the legislation even with Thursday’s layoffs.

The cuts leave about 6,100 people working at the Hoffman Estates site. The deal with the state requires Sears to keep 4,250 jobs there.

AUTO INDUSTRY

Regulations approved for self-driving cars

CARSON CITY, NEV. | Nevada is envisioning a day when taxicabs might shuttle fares without a driver, or people with medical conditions that make them ineligible for a license could get around with a virtual chauffeur.

The concept took a big step when Nevada became the first state to approve regulations that spell out requirements for companies to test driverless cars on state roads.

“Then they have to take us out and prove that they can do it,” Bruce Breslow, director of the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, said of the autonomous vehicles. “They’re not ready to go to market yet,”

But Nevada intends to be ready when they are, and officials hope to stay ahead of other states, such as Florida and Hawaii, that are considering similar testing regulations, Mr. Breslow said.

TOURISM

Noah’s Ark attraction gets final piece of land

LOUISVILLE, KY. | The group building a Noah’s Ark-themed tourism attraction in northern Kentucky says it has purchased the final tract of land for the project, but added that a sluggish economy has hurt fundraising and that the park is still years away from being built.

The Christian ministry Answers in Genesis is directing the construction of the 500-foot ark that is the first phase of the proposed $150 million Ark Encounter. The group also built the popular Creation Museum near Cincinnati.

The project manager says the last 556-acre tract is in hand. The entire site is 800 acres set on rolling farmland.

Answers in Genesis also is asking followers for about $24 million in donations to help build the massive ark. Organizers say about $5 million has been raised so far and that fundraising has slowed.

CANDY

Mars to make candy bars less fattening

NEW YORK | Snickers bars may soon satisfy you a bit less.

Mars Inc., the makers of popular candy brands including M&M;’s and Twix, will stop making chocolate products that exceed 250 calories by the end of next year.

That means king-sized versions of the company’s chocolate bars will disappear from candy aisles. The privately held company also makes Milky Way, 3 Musketeers, Bounty and Kudos bars.

Mars may not have to make radical changes to reach its goal, however; a standard Snickers bar currently has 280 calories. A package of Twix and a bag of peanut M&M;’s each clock in at 250 calories.

From wire dispatches and staff reports