The big news in Minnesota government today is the Department of Employment and Economic Expansion’s report that 5600 jobs are on tap to be created in Minnesota in the next two years due to business expansions. But at least one part of this report is an outright fabrication.
Halfway down the list of DEED’s list of major business expansions is Viracon, one of the world’s leading industrial glass manufacturers. (Full disclosure-I was employed at Viracon through a temp agency earlier this year). DEED counts Viracon’s new expansion at it’s Owatonna plant as “expected to retain 500 to 800 existing jobs”. No new jobs are planned at the Owatonna location, yet DEED is counting these jobs in the tally of 5600 jobs being ‘generated’ by business expansion.
The distinction in jobs ‘retained’ or ‘created’ is nothing new of course; as the 2009 stimulus bill started to flop, the White House stopped talking about jobs created and started measuring jobs ‘saved or created’. Now DEED is doing the same.
Apogee, the parent company of Viracon, made this distinction quite clear when they announced the plant expansion that no jobs are being added.
No new jobs are being created, but the deal helps to retain existing jobs at the plant that would otherwise have been at risk of being relocated
And there is more fine print-the deal to get Viracon to expand in Minnesota instead of their other plant in Georgia came with a hefty price tag; Tax Increment Financing worth $4.3 million and a $1.3 million grant from the city of Owatonna for infrastructure upgrades. These jobs are only staying in Minnesota because of a large investment by the City of Owatonna to create a better business environment for the company.
DEED is trying to take credit for jobs being created that already exist.
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