State officials, including the governor, have met with Lennox Industries executives about the future of operations in Marshalltown, and Governor Tom Vilsack says the company hasn’t yet made a decision. Vilsack says he’s traveled to Texas on a couple of occasions in the past year and maintained constant contact with the company’s executives. But Vilsack says the state’s ability to respond to Lennox is hampered by one thing: Lennox decision-makers haven’t decided what to do yet. Vilsack says the incentive package — or in his words the “financing vehicle” — would be the state economic deveopment program that’s in limbo — the “Iowa Values” Fund. Vilsack says the Lennox situation is just one more reason there must be a resolution sooner rather than later that will re-establish the Values Fund. Vilsack says businesses will stay in places where they can be profitable. Vilsack says he and other state economic development officials are encouraging Lennox and other, similar companies to embrace “lean manufacturing” techniques that helps workers be more productive, and helps to make up for the cheaper wages paid to overseas workers. That means construction of new plants or retooling existing facilities, and Vilsack says that’s what the half a BILLION dollar “Iowa Values” Fund was designed to encourage through hefty state grants for such projects.
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