Governor Tom Vilsack’s flying to Michigan this (Thursday) morning for a meeting with Whirlpool executives to discuss the future of Maytag and Amana operations in Iowa.
“The reality is that businesses make these decisions based on a variety of factors,” Vilsack says. “I think it’s important for the community to know that we’re doing everything we possibly can to make the case to have Whirlpool continue and to grow and to expand in Iowa.”
Whirlpool’s purchase of Maytag was finalized about a month ago, and nearly 5000 Iowa jobs are on the line with Whirlpool’s decision about what to do with its newly-acquired operations here. Twenty-five-hundred workers are employed at the Amana plant in Amana, another 2300 are employed in Maytag facilities in Newton and 100 work at a distribution center in North Liberty. “We have suggested a variety of incentives,” Vilsack says. “I put on the table the other day the idea of ‘What if we build a state of the art facility that would be the most environmentally-attractive and advanced facility in the country or in the world?’ Would that be enough?”
While the state has used incentive packages to keep companies like Wells Dairy in Le Mars or lure companies Wells Fargo to build new facilities in West Des Moines, Vilsack’s not overly optimistic about the state’s chances with Whirlpool. “I don’t want anybody to have a sense that somehow we can magically turn around a circumstance if a business makes a decision that it’s substantially more cost-efficient to be in a different location,” Vilsack says.
Dave Swift, Whirlpool’s CEO for North American operations, was in Des Moines last week to meet with state officials and Swift said the company will do what it takes to remain viable in a global market where competitors are employing cheaper labor in other countries.