The director of Iowa’s Department of Economic Development disputes a report that concludes the state’s Iowa Values Fund awards and other government incentives to two companies end up costing the state more than was gained. The Legislative Services Agency analysis concludes state and local governments actually spent more on Sioux Center-based Trans Ova Genetics and on Wells Fargo for an expansion in West Des Moines than will be gained economically from either project. Department of Economic Development director Michael Blouin says the state spurred economic activity by handing out those big-money “Iowa Values Fund” grants. Blouin says the state has given grants to 227 companies in the past 19 months. Those companies have created 15-thousand jobs that pay an average annual salary of nearly 38-thousand dollars, according to Blouin. “Not every project is going to perform as well as the others, but they all look real good right now,” Blouin says. Blouin says this latest news splash is based on old information. Blouin says stories based on this data were written when the awards were made in August of 2003, then more stories came out a year later and he says this is a third go-round on the data. “The projects are still sound. The companies are still progressing. They’re hiring people,” Blouin says. Blouin contends this latest report is based on the faulty presumption that the newly hired people who’ll work at Wells Fargo in West Des Moines and at Trans Ova in Sioux Center will be new to Iowa — causing other expenses like expansion of schools. Blouin says many of the people hired are currently “under-employed” and will simply move from one job in the community to another. Other hires will be young Iowans who’re just out of college, and Blouin says that’s one of the goals of the Iowa Values program. Blouin says attitudes change when he outlines the wide-ranging benefits of the Values Fund awards. Blouin made his comments during taping of the Iowa Public Television program “Iowa Press” which airs tonight at 7:30.
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