MADISON (AP) – At least two companies that received money from Gov. Scott Walker’s chief economic development agency later outsourced jobs to foreign countries, WKOW-TV reported Wednesday.
One of the companies received a second award from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation after the fact, the television station reported.
Both Eaton Corporation and Plexus Corporation received millions of dollars in financial awards from WEDC, only to later lay off workers whose jobs were taken by employees at the companies’ foreign facilities.
WEDC spokesman Mark Maley said “even the loss of one job in Wisconsin is one too many” and WEDC routinely works closely with companies that are considering other options to ensure that those jobs stay in the state.
In 2011, WEDC awarded Eaton Corp. with up to $1 million in tax credits if the company met job creation and retention goals at its manufacturing facility in Menomonee Falls. The company has received $190,000 in tax credits so far, WEDC said.
In April 2013, Eaton laid off 163 employees at its Cooper Power Systems plant in Pewaukee and announced it was moving those jobs to Mexico. Less than a year later, WEDC awarded Eaton Corp. with up to $1.36 million in additional tax credits for a proposed $54 million expansion at that same Pewaukee plant.
Maley said Wednesday that Eaton Corp. recently notified WEDC it will not seek any tax credits for that project.
WEDC also awarded Plexus Corp. with tax credits of up to $2 million in 2011 and up to $15 million in 2012. Plexus has received $4.7 million in tax credits to this point, Maley said.
In July 2012, Plexus said it was laying off 116 workers from its facility in Neenah. The U.S. Department of Labor since has ruled those employees, as well as all Plexus employees laid off since December 2011, are eligible to receive federal Trade Adjustment Assistance benefits. Those benefits are only available to employees who were laid off because their jobs were outsourced to foreign countries.
Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke, secretary of the state Commerce Department for nearly three years under Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, seized on the news. She issued a statement calling it “appalling” and said as governor she would insist that every WEDC award protects against outsourcing of jobs.
Walker’s campaign spokeswoman Alleigh Marre called Burke’s comments “the height of hypocrisy” given that she is a former executive at Trek Bicycle Corp., which also outsourced hundreds of jobs to China. Burke has said she wasn’t involved in the decision to move jobs overseas at the company started by her father in the 1970s.