Statehouse politicians are pointing fingers of blame now that South Dakota has won a battle over a biotech firm’s expansion. Hematech — a company that’s partnered with Trans Ova Genetics in Sioux Center — has decided to build its new laboratory in Sioux Falls since the state of South Dakota has pledged to pay for half the project. Iowa House Speaker Christopher Rants, a Republican from Sioux City, says someone has some explaining to do. He says Iowa legislators presented democrat Governor Tom Vilsack with a 500-million dollar economic development fund in June, and there’s no excuse for losing the race to South Dakota. Rants says he’s “very angry.” Rants questions what have the Governor and the director of the Department of Economic Development been doing for the past 45 days, especially since Iowa now has more money than South Dakota to dedicate to economic development efforts. Rants says the Governor may have been spending all that time “learning how to use e-mail” — a shot at Vilsack’s admission that he doesn’t send e-mail and that’s one reason his office destroyed public records that had been requested by a reporter. Rants says the Governor and D-E-D director Michael Blouin need to visit with Trans Ova executives. Rants says the Governor and Blouin shouldn’t give up on the issue even though South Dakota has announced its deal. Matt Paul, Vilsack’s press secretary, says Trans Ova may still build a lab of its own in northwest Iowa. Paul says Iowa is in the running, and has the tools to seek out companies and tell them “Iowa is open for business.” Paul says, though, Hematech’s decision highlights the Governor’s assertion this spring that Iowa had to act quickly on the new economic development fund. Legislators adjourned their regular session in April without taking final action on the fund, but endorsed the concept in early June during a special session.
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