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Materne receives fourth round of corporate welfare

Materne receives fourth round of corporate welfare

Dustin Hurst
July 28, 2016
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July 28, 2016

The company famous for producing applesauce pouches for kids will receive a fourth round of corporate welfare, the Idaho Department of Labor announced.

Materne will get $510,000 from the state’s Workforce Development Fund, a controversial program with iffy results.

The grant, the state agency announced last week, will fund worker training for 85 new employees at the company’s Nampa plant, which opened in June 2015. Materne will pay the 85 new workers an average of $20.58 an hour and provide health and other benefits.

The Workforce Development Fund mandates companies pay workers at least $12 an hour and provide health coverage to qualify for the corporate welfare.

This serves as Materne’s second helping at the worker training trough. The state first awarded the company $390,000 to train 65 workers in May 2014. The company exhausted those funds in May of this year.

Overall, the new worker training cash represents Materne’s fourth round of corporate welfare since announcing its intention to build the plant.

The Idaho Opportunity Fund, which the Idaho Department of Commerce describes on its website as a “deal-closing fund,” gave Materne $350,000 through the city of Nampa to offset infrastructure upgrade costs.

Locally, Canyon County provided the company significant relief.

The county gave Materne a property tax break for the plant’s first five operating years. IdahoReporter.com asked Joe Decker, the county’s information officer, for the value of that tax break. Decker didn’t have the figure readily available, but he pledged to look into it.

Nampa promised to waive the company’s impact fees, which could have totaled more than $137,000. But, as Nampa Communications Director Vickie Holbrook explained Thursday, Materne evaded the fees anyway because the company “developed within the area of an existing building so there were no new impact fees assessed to the main project, since impact fees are tied to only new building area.”

The company plans to spend nearly $80 million on the Nampa facility through its first 10 operating years. The company promised to employ 230 workers.

Matern told Canyon County business leaders earlier this year the company may soon build another production plant in the United States, but it needs to monitor sales of a new yogurt product before committing to the project.

According to the Capital Press, Idaho Department of Commerce Director Megan Ronk said Idaho would “do whatever we can on our end to make that a reality.”

A timetable has not been set for that decision.

The Workforce Development Fund, paid for by a portion of the unemployment tax businesses pay, has a failing record. A 2012 report by the agency found the program effective in only about 40 percent of training deals.

Photo credit: Materne GoGo Squeeze Facebook page. 

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