Well’s Dairy of Le Mars has now paid back about $1.2 million to the state after falling 138 jobs short of what it promised in return for state incentives. Wells’ received about three-million dollars in forgivable loans through the Iowa Values Funds in 2004 to assist the family-owned dairy with building a new corporate center — including a research and development facility.
The company return promised to create 129 jobs and retain 346 by the June 30th state deadline. Wells’ spokesman Dave Smetter says consolidating office locations at one place gave them unexpected efficiencies which reduced workforce needs, which was one of the factors.
"There was very rapid and record increases in commodity ingredient costs over the past two years, across the board really, of those items we procure to manufacture our products," Smetter says. Smetter says a change in their product line also impacted their employment levels.
Smetter says: "Our decision earlier this year to divest ourselves of the fresh dairy business impacted that. Those jobs, for instance at the Le Mars milk plant , were pretty much retained by the new owner, but we couldn’t count those numbers in our retention numbers for the purposes of the Values Fund." Smetter says the dairy projected going into this year that there would be a shortfall in the jobs creation and budgeted for that subject to the final calculation from the state.