Tuesday, April 9, 2024

"Job creator" Conagra takes Wis tax dollars, then cuts Wis jobs 5 years later

Remember how I referenced Conagra Brands’ improved earnings and profit margins last week, and how they credited “cost-saving” measures as a reason for their positive earnings outlook?

We got an example of those measures on Monday, to the detriment of a sizable amount of Wisconsinites.

Employees at the Conagra Brands’ Birds Eye facility in Beaver Dam learned Monday that the factory will be shutting its doors at the end of the summer, eliminating about 250 jobs.

“We continually evaluate our overall network of food production facilities to ensure that we are operating as effectively and efficiently as possible so we can remain competitive as a company,” Conagra media representative Daniel Hare said in a statement.

“We have determined that we can continue to meet the needs of the business by making these products in fewer facilities. Therefore, we informed employees that our Beaver Dam facility will close by the end of the summer, which will impact approximately 250 employees,” Hare said.
Gotta hit those numbers to “remain competitive” and make the shareholders happy, you know. And no, don’t count on these cost cuts to lead to lower food prices on Conagra products.

RIP Macho Man.

As I was googling for information and a link to the Conagra layoff story, I noticed some headlines of the past come up regarding the Beaver Dam outfit. And was reminded that the state of Wisconsin gave tax dollars to this same Conagra facility 5 years ago.

Conagra Brands plans to invest approximately $78 million to modernize and expand the current 350,000-square-foot cold storage and vegetable packaging facility on Green Valley Road, which supports the Birds Eye frozen vegetables operation. The Birds Eye operations are supported by almost 800 employees at both the Beaver Dam and Darien plants in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is supporting the expansion by authorizing up to $750,000 in state income tax credits over the next five years. The actual amount of tax credits that Conagra Brands will receive is contingent upon the number of jobs created and the amount of capital investment during that period. Like all tax credit awards, the company must first create the jobs and make the capital investment before receiving the credits.

“Birds Eye frozen vegetables have been a fixture in freezers in Wisconsin and around the country for generations, and I applaud the company for continuing to invest and grow in our state,” said Mark R. Hogan, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization. “As a company with facilities all over the country, Birds Eye was looking at other options for this expansion. Its decision to expand in Wisconsin is a testament to the state’s strong business climate and outstanding workforce.”…
And take a look at who was supporting and promoting that assistance in early 2019.
“With the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation leading the way, our state continues to remain open for business,” said Sen. Scott Fitzgerald. “Operations expansions like this one prove why Wisconsin is the best place in the country to work, live and raise a family. Thanks to the continued investment of Birds Eye Foods in Beaver Dam, more family-supporting jobs will keep our community prospering and keep Wisconsin moving forward.”

“This exciting expansion plan is another example of strong investments being made in Dodge County because of pro-growth policies enacted over the last eight years,” said Rep. Mark Born. “The 140 new jobs will help support families throughout the area and continue to strengthen our local economy, making Beaver Dam a more desirable place for businesses and families to locate.”
Way to reference the short-term scams and cronyism of the Walker years, guys. And notice Walker’s WEDC Secretary was still in charge at the time, instead of Evers’ choice of Missy Hughes. That seems telling to me.

Since then, Fitzgerald has shuffled off to Congress, and still has the nerve to spread this same “job creator” BS about businesses like Conagra. Born has been the co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee for the last 4 years, and has shot down multiple attempts by Governor Evers to get rid of a Walker-era tax giveaway that reduces the state tax liability of manufacturers like Conagra near zero percent. The “open for business” maneuvers of WisGOP in the 2010s continue to fail us in 2024. And we also need to stop trusting these companies to do the right thing when it comes to either keeping prices in check, or in creating any sustainable, long-term growth when their tax rates keep getting cut and profit-hoarding is encouraged.

You know what’s the best way to stop corporations from imposing greedflation on consumers, and from grabbing state tax dollars for a few years before leaving us with empty factories once the giveaways run out? NOT LETTING IT HAPPEN IN THE FIRST PLACE.

This also means we have to get a new crew in place at the Wisconsin Capitol that will make these businesses pay for a small part of all the stuff they have been taking from us.

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