Idaho gives corporate welfare another try at Post Falls facility

Idaho gives corporate welfare another try at Post Falls facility

by
Dustin Hurst
August 10, 2016
Dustin Hurst
Author Image
August 10, 2016

A business campus in Post Falls will soon experience a taxpayer-funded resurrection.

That rebirth comes nearly two years after state officials failed to subsidize success at the campus.

Idaho officials announced days ago that Orgill, Inc., will set down roots in the same space once occupied by Kimball International, which left the space in 2015. Orgill, one of the world’s largest hardware manufacturers, plans to take control of the space Sept. 1 and hopes to have the plant at full operating capacity by March 2017.

According to a company press release, Orgill plans to hire more than 100 workers.

Ron Beal, Orgill’s chairman, explained the company’s decision to expand to North Idaho.

“There were many positive things that led us to select Post Falls as the home for our newest distribution center, including the excellent workforce in the area, the assistance and cooperation of local officials, and the quality of the facility itself,” Beal said.

Generous corporate welfare also likely helped the company make its decision.

The Idaho Department of Commerce approved Orgill for a $2 million break in sales, income and payroll taxes, which lasts through the next 10 years. Commerce officials project the new jobs, 138 in all, will generate nearly $10 million in direct state revenue during that time span.

More corporate welfare could flow to the company. The Idaho Department of Labor could subsidize the company’s work through the Workforce Development Fund, which delivers taxpayer cash to businesses to train workers.

Idaho Department of Labor Director Ken Edmunds told IdahoReporter.com the agency would love to partner with Orgill, which he noted, “appears to meet the criteria” for workforce training funds.

To qualify for training subsidies, companies must pay new employees more than $12 an hour, plus offer health benefits. Orgill told the Idaho Department of Commerce its jobs will average annual salaries of $41,000, and the company plans to offer insurance.

If Edmunds and his agency decide to spend on Orgill’s workers, it would be at least the second time the state has subsidized a business on that campus.

Before Kimball International and its 260 workers left Idaho in favor of Indiana in 2014, the Department of Labor paid the company nearly $120,000 to train 83 workers.

When Kimball announced the Post Falls plant closure in late 2014, the company boasted that the move would consolidate its operations and provide more efficiency.

Corporate welfare doled out under Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, now Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s running mate, may have played a role in that company’s decision to close its Idaho plant.

A November 2014 press release from the Indiana Economic Development Corporate revealed the state offered Kimball $1 million in “conditional tax credits” and $300,000 in worker training funds to bring the Idaho operations to Indiana.

Luring Orgill to Post Falls is not the first time Idaho has tried to resurrect business operations at a certain business facility or campus. After H.J. Heinz shuttered its Pocatello food processing facility in 2014, state officials used generous corporate welfare to draw Amy’s Kitchen, a frozen food producer, to the site.

Heinz, which laid off 400 workers, received $880,000 in worker training dollars from the Idaho Department of Labor. The state committed last year to give Amy’s Kitchen more than $8 million in training dollars and tax breaks.

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