The State Economic Development Board made its last awards for the current fiscal year in its meeting Friday. Department of Economic Development Director Mike Blouin says part of the action was to follow through on money promised the Wells Dairy in Le Mars. He says that includes about two-point-nine million dollars in a forgivable loan that’s based on the company creating the new jobs they’ve promised. Wells has promised to create 129 new jobs and retain 346. He says there was also a couple hundred thousand dollars from “a couple of pockets the department has.” Blouin says that goes with other money promised the company. He says there’s about four million in tax benefits from the new jobs-and-income program for a total of about 10-million dollars when it’s all put together. Blouin says the awards given show the need for the Legislature to fund the Iowa Values Fund. He was asked about the criticism from some legislators that the program is picking winners and losers. He says there are also people on both sides of the political spectrum that call it “corporate welfare.” He says, “of course it is” as he says there are 50 states competing and many countries for these companies. Blouin says Iowa has to stay in the competition. He says,”we can unilaterally disarm in this war for an economy.” He says he’d love to see the competition banned worldwide as he says “Iowa would float to the top of the list so fast our head would spin.” Blouin says the reality is that we have to be involved. Blouin says Iowa isn’t sending out the money blindly, as the state has a strict tool for measuring the return on investment that nobody else in the country has attempted to put together. Blouin says while the game may be distasteful to some — it will have a long-term payoff.
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