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State responds to questions about Columbia IBM facility

On Thursday the Missouri Department of Economic Development responded to seven questions about the IBM facility in Columbia more than a month and half after ABC 17 News asked the questions.

This comes after Columbia Third Ward councilman Karl Skala called on the state to be more forthcoming with IBM data on Wednesday.

ABC 17’s Jillian Fertig sent DED a list of seven questions via email on October 14 after the department director declined an interview.

In October, job numbers plummeted below 400 at the facility.

IBM came to Columbia back in 2010. The company promised 800 jobs in return for $28 million in tax incentives from the state.

It’s a promise IBM has never fulfilled and the state suspended some of the tax credits and programs earlier this year.

Here are the seven questions Fertig asked and the responses from DED:

1. The total dollar amount of all money received by IBM from the state since 2010.

DED- As of 10/15/15 , the company has received $12.1M (Missouri Quality Jobs: $6M, BUILD: $4.1M, training: $2M).

2. Is there a deadline for IBM to raise their employment numbers above 400 before the agreement is null, meaning none of the incentives/programs can be restored?

DED- They must reach 400 new jobs within the year (next October 2016 ) to maintain eligibility for the training program.

3. Will IBM have to pay back the state for money received since they have not fulfilled their end of the deal?

DED- IBM has not and will not receive incentives for jobs that they do not create. Our incentives are performance based, meaning they will only receive benefits for the number of new jobs that do create.

4. Has the state verified that the employees reporting to the Columbia facility actually physically live in Missouri and work at the facility?

DED- Companies must certify under penalties of perjury that they have read the requirements and that the statements and information contained in the application and attachments are complete, true, and correct to the best of their knowledge and belief. The application must also be notarized.

In addition, to determine eligibility each year, the department cross matches the annual report provided by the company against the Missouri Department of Labor’s employment records.

5. Has the state verified that training dollars IBM received actually went toward training?

DED- Yes. Training dollars were provided directly to our training partner Moberly Area Community College in Columbia to ensure new employees received workplace training.

6. Is the state aware that IBM is under investigation in Iowa for the petitioning of H1-B visas after laying off hundreds of American workers, similar to the mass layoffs here? If so, what is the state’s response?

DED- Missouri’s incentives are for jobs created in Missouri. Questions about jobs in other states should be directed to those states.

7. What is the state going to do if IBM employment numbers continue to drop?

DED- The company remains in suspension for BUILD benefits until they meet the 500 job minimum. If they drop below 200 jobs, the MQJ benefits could be reduced and if the company falls below 100 jobs, it will no longer be eligible to receive MQJ benefits. In addition, the 4th workforce training project has been deactivated and will remain deactivated until the company reaches employment levels at or above 400. If they do not reach this minimum in the next year, their last training project will become permanently deactivated. The company was approved for four projects which include workforce training for 100 new jobs for each project.

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