Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Another WEDC fail, as Appleton's JanSport lays off hundreds

Bad news in the Fox Valley this morning, as a large Appleton area employer announced major layoffs.
The JanSport collegiate apparel operations in Appleton will be closing, as part of a transaction by its parent, VF Corporation - putting 380 people out of work….

"Because of these fluctuations in our business, we have initiated some actions across parts of our operations at our VF Outdoor facility in Appleton. These actions include ceasing our apparel decoration operations at the VF Outdoor facility in Appleton later this year. This also includes our JanSport Collegiate Licensed Apparel business, which will be winding down business in the coming months," said Vanessa McCutchen, spokesperson for VF Corp.

"We have no plans to close our VF Outdoor facility in Appleton. It will remain open and will continue to service VF’s Outdoor brands with accounting, finance, credit and customer service functions. While we regret that these actions will impact associates and their families, we are confident that this is the right strategic direction for VF and will enable the company to refocus the composition of our portfolio for future growth," she said in an email to Fox 11.

The Greenville facility will continue to employ 370 people, she said. The facility will remain open and will continue to service VF’s Outdoor brands with accounting, finance, credit and customer service functions.
It’s sad and infuriating enough to see hundreds of Wisconsinites lose their jobs. But even worse is that this comes 30 months after the same company was drawing headlines for allegedly creating jobs in the place. And conveniently, that alleged expansion was announced 5 weeks before the November 2014 Governor’s election.
The project, which is expected to be completed in December, will add up to 70 new jobs and 19,000 square feet to the Greenville location, N850 County Road CB. The facility currently employs more than 700 people.

“Our business is growing,” Randy Schilt, operations chief financial officer and controller for VF Outdoor, said in a statement. “We are pleased to be investing in the Fox Cities, which has great people with the talent and skills necessary to support the business needs for each of our eight brands. We provide sales, customer service, product design, graphics support and apparel decoration, in addition to financial services for VF’s outerwear, sportswear and footwear brands.”

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has authorized VF Outdoor to receive up to $880,500 in state tax credits. The company is eligible for $310,000 in job creation credits over the next three years. The actual amount of credits will be contingent upon the number of jobs created.

WEDC also authorized up to $570,500 in job retention tax credits over five years.

“A great economy is built on commitments made by companies such as VF Outdoor — a company that has decided to stay in Wisconsin and grow here,” Gov. Scott Walker said in a statement. “As an industry leader with many location options to select from for its expansion, we are delighted they chose Wisconsin.
Funny how often these WEDC job announcements/tax giveaways don’t end up materializing into long-lasting jobs, isn’t it? That “jobs retained” credit is an especially nice touch, and given that VF is still going to operate the Greenville facility, does that make this a “successful” WEDC handout?

Appleton State Rep. Amanda Stuck also noted the problem of recipients of WEDC handouts laying people off later on (again), and asked how Wisconsinites could get their money back.
“I am however deeply concerned that this facility is closing and that this company received state tax credits to help incentivize their expansion and job retention. On May 2nd, 2016 the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) certified VF Outdoor, Inc. for $880,500 in tax credits to help create 76 new jobs and retain a further 113 positions between April 2014 and April 2017. (Jake asks- What month is it? Oh, April 2017) I hope that WEDC will use every tool available to them to recoup the costs of these tax credits from VF Outdoor as they shutter operations in our community.”

“It is disappointing that we have yet another example where a company in Wisconsin received taxpayer support through loans, grants, or tax credits only to pick up their operations and lay off hundreds of hardworking Wisconsinites. We need to do better to help keep jobs in Wisconsin, to help Wisconsin-based companies expand, and to make sure that those receiving state aid are committed to our state and our communities.”
Or maybe stop having unelected political hacks at WEDC from making these decisions, especially 1 months before an election where the promises of job creation get headlines, but when those promises are broken, we hear nary a peep from those same elected officials.

And taxpayers are going to get stuck with the bill twice- first from the “jobs tax credit” write-offs WF was able to take over the last 3 years, and now with the lost incomes and unemployment payments for the 380 people who are now without work.

Had enough of this "promise big and underdeliver" routine, especially all you 920ers who voted for Trump and Walker?

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