There’ve been three sobering job-loss announcements in the past week in Newton, Des Moines and Mount Pleasant. Governor Tom Vilsack, who is from Mount Pleasant, disputes the idea this latest round of economic bad news is a signal the Iowa economy is struggling.
“Obviously it is for the families who are affected by these decisions and it is a reflection on the global nature of our economy,” Vilsack says. The governor plans to use the layoff and closure announcements as ammunition in his fight to get legislators to re-establish the state “Iowa Values” economic development fund which has handed out large state grants to expanding businesses. The first Iowa Values Fund grant — worth 10 million — went to Wells Fargo. Vilsack says the grants encourage business growth and development.
The Celestica Company in Mount Pleasant is shutting down, putting more than 300 people out of work. One-hundred-55 Maytag production workers in Newton lost their jobs and about 500 Citibank employees based in Des Moines are losing their jobs. Vilsack says the people who criticized the state grant to Wells Fargo should “re-think” that since those laid-off employees may seek jobs with Wells Fargo. Vilsack will not give details, but he hints there’ll be a big business expansion in Iowa soon.
“I think you’re going to have better, more positive announcements here very quickly in terms of job growth in the state,” Vilsack says. “I anticipate an announcement here pretty soon on a major expansion and I think we have a lot of prospects. Having said that, we have not turned the corner. We continue to have to transform this economy. “