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Follow up: A closer look at Columbia’s investment in IBM

Just 24 hours after ABC 17 News reported IBM was not fulfilling its promise to the state at the Columbia facility and employees accused the company of replacing local workers with foreign employees, more people have come forward.

After Monday night’s story aired, Fertig received calls and emails from other former IBM employees, including IBM employees from Dubuque, Iowa.

On Tuesday, ABC 17’s Jillian Fertig took a closer look at the Columbia taxpayer’s investment in the building that houses IBM.

“They’re [IBM] not required to be transparent with the city,” Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid said in Monday night’s report.

Fertig asked him if he felt IBM was being misleading to the taxpayers by not being transparent with job numbers and that the 453 employees at the facility was far short of the 800 jobs promised.

McDavid said IBM’s obligation is to the state as far as employment numbers go, and that his main interest was IBM paying for upgrades to the building.

“We purchased it for $3 million,” he said. “We owe $300,000 a year for 10 years. IBM was required, and did, put $10 million into it, so we own a building now worth $12 or $13 million that we bought for $3 million.”

“So no matter what, if…it’s extraordinarily unlikely IBM would leave the community,” McDavid said. “If they did, well, we’re left with a state of the art office building.”

But some taxpayers and even some IBM employees said it’s about more than just a building.

The Columbia REDI group, which is the economic development group for the city and Boone County, is set to meet Wednesday morning.

The agenda for the meeting has not been posted so it’s unclear whether IBM will come up.

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