Three entities approve $1.3 million in subsidies for Wabash

Staff Writer

Following public hearings held by the Economic Development Authority (EDA) of Little Falls and the Rural Development Finance Authority (RDFA), both organizations approved business subsidies for incoming manufacturer Wabash National Corporation.

The company, which will be producing panels for refrigerated trailers here, has purchased and will move into the former Larson Boats facility in Little Falls.

Eric Demerly, director of corporate tax at Wabash said the company is also considering having the Little Falls facility as the location to assemble the entire refrigerated trailers and truck bodies.

In 2017 and 2018, Demerly said Wabash would be investing $11 million into the Little Falls facility, including $5.5 million for improvements in 2017.

Business subsidies were approved for Wabash, including a $50,000 tax rebate per year for 10 years, totalling $500,000, from the city of Little Falls, which was approved by the Economic Development Authority.

The RDFA also approved a $400,000 tax rebate through the county, $40,000 a year for 10 years.                 The RDFA, EDA, the Little Falls City Council and the Morrison County Board of Commissioners also approved sponsoring Wabash for an additional $400,000 grant from the Minnesota Investment Fund Grant for job training and a displaced worker program.

The subsidies are contingent upon Wabash meeting employment goals.

Wabash plans to meet those goals with 53 employees by the end of 2017 and 70 in 2018.

Residents argued for or against the subsidies at the public hearings.

Robin Hensel said she opposes business subsidies to any company, calling subsidies “corporate welfare.”

She, Theresa Skorseth and Mike Hawkins also had issues with EPA and OSHA violations by Wabash in the past, citing cases as recent as last year.

Hawkins asked the city and Demerly, what would be done to prevent pollution at the Little Falls facility.

“I’m all for jobs. People need to live, they need to make money, but let’s do it the safe way,” Hawkins said.

In a comment issued by Wabash National, Corporate Communications Manager Dana Stelsel said Wabash’s priority was the health and safety of employees and the community.

“Our number one value at Wabash National is the health and safety of our associates and the communities in which we operate,” Stelsel said.

She also said that the company will be pursuing ISO 14001 status, an international environmental management standard for businesses, at the Little Falls location and at other locations across the world to go along with the five that are already certified.

Other residents said the town needed to take action to get Wabash to come to town and replace jobs that are gone along with Larson Boats.

“When opportunity knocks, we need to answer the door,” Tom Scherling, who represented Community Development of Morrison County, said.

Wabash is set to begin production at the facility in April. The facility is being purchased for $3.5 million.

  • newpolitiq7

    Quite simply, this company doesn’t need Little Falls’ taxpayer’s money — they are a wealthy company. They want to move here because there’s a good business rationale for doing so. Plus, it’s getting increasingly difficult to find workers at the low $16-17/hr. level they’ll be paying 60 of their 70 workers (while their executives make plenty: http://www1.salary.com/WABASH-NATIONAL-CORP-Executive-Salaries.html).

    Has anyone contacted “Friends of the Mississippi” yet, to see if they care to weigh in? They have a policy advocate who might be interested in the documented pollution caused by the manufacturing of molded structural composites. Time to give them a call, to see if they carry any weight in advocating against Wabash receiving a State MIF grant.

    I agree with the following statement about corporate handouts like Little Falls, Morrison Co. are trying to give away to Wabash National:

    “Corporations aren’t people, despite what the Supreme Court says, and they don’t need or deserve handouts.

    When corporations get special handouts from the government – subsidies and tax breaks – it costs you. It means you have to pay more in taxes to make up for these hidden expenses. And government has less money for good schools and roads, Medicare and national defense, and everything else you need.

    You might call these special corporate handouts “corporate welfare,” but at least welfare goes to real people in need. In the big picture, corporate handouts are costing tens of billions of dollars a year. Some estimates put it over $100 billion – which means it’s costing you money that would otherwise go to better schools or roads, or lower taxes.

    Conservatives have made a game of obscuring where federal spending actually goes. In reality, only about 12 percent of federal spending goes to individuals and families, most in dire need. An increasing portion goes to corporate welfare.

    Other examples: The oil, gas, and coal industries get billions in their own special tax breaks. Big Agribusiness gets farm subsides. Big Pharma gets their own subsidy in the form of a ban on government using its bargaining power under Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices. And hedge-fund and private-equity managers get a special tax loophole that treats their income as capital gains, at a lower tax rate than ordinary income.

    The real issue isn’t the government’s size. It’s whom government is for. Much of government is no longer working for the vast majority it’s intended to serve. If government were responding to the public’s interest instead of the moneyed interests, it would be providing more support for communities, families, and individuals who need it the most.

    There’s no reason any corporations should be on the dole, or that your hard-earned dollars should be going to them for no reason but their political clout.

    So we have to demand an end to corporate welfare. No more handouts to particular corporations and industries simply because they’re big enough and powerful enough to get them. No more specialized tax breaks. No more exemptions or special treatment. No more crony capitalism.” (http://robertreich.org/post/119938747675)