Outgoing State Representative Ed Fallon, the third-place finisher in the Democratic primary for governor, confronted state economic development officials Wednesday. Fallon charges that the “Iowa Values Fund” which hands out huge state grants to businesses which promise to locate or expand here isn’t “creating” as many jobs as state officials claim.
Fallon on Thursday accused Iowa Department of Economic Development deputy director Tina Hoffman of withholding the data that will prove his claim. “Examining the companies that have a contract completion date falling on or before 12/31 of this year, we found that only 51 percent of the jobs were created,” Fallon said. “Also, the wage level pledged is about $37,000 a year but what we’re finding is it’s only about $28,000.” Hoffman said those differences are part of the normal “project creation” period. “You know, you sometimes have to build buildings or put new equipment in and then hire the employees,” she says. “It wouldn’t be unusual for us to see jobs coming in nearer the end of the project completion time period.”
Fallon today filed an open records request for more detailed information about the Values Fund. It is Fallon’s third request for information about the state program that dispenses 50-million dollars in state grants annually. Hoffman, the Department of Economic Development’s deputy director, says her agency has tried to honor Fallon’s requests but needs more clarification about just what it is Fallon wants to see.
Fallon’s frustrated by the lack of cooperation he’s gotten. “The more transparent government is, the better. People have a right to know as much as possible,” Fallon says. “I do think that the Department of Economic Development has a knack for spinning stuff in a way that’s favorable. I think if they answer these questions honestly, the program will not look anywhere near as rosy as they make it out to be.”