Ashley Furniture gets tax credit with a plan that allows for job - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

COPY-Ashley Furniture gets tax credit with a plan that allows for job cuts

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Arcadia (WQOW) - Furniture giant Ashley Furniture is in line to get millions from the state. It will allow the company to move forward with an expansion at their Arcadia headquarters.  But it's also adding to accusations that suggest Governor Scott Walker is rewarding his campaign contributors with tax credits. 

 “Unfortunately the headline was misleading,” says Bill Koslo, Senior Executive of Ashley's Furniture.

Ashley's Bill Koslo is referring to a headline in the Wisconsin State Journal, suggesting that Ashley might cut 1,900 jobs despite being approved for $6 million in tax credits.  
The WSJ says that a staff memo outlines a plan for optional job cuts. In it the company agreed to retain 70% of existing positions in 2014, 60% the following year and 50% between 2016 and 2018. If it reduced its workforce by more, the state could take back the tax credit. 


In a news release sent out on Sunday, Ashley says it's not reducing its Wisconsin workforce and has added 425 jobs in the state since 2012. The company says it used a very conservative job protection number in the proposal to WEDC to protect Ashley against future unexpected economic downturns.

 “Well Ashley Furniture is not cutting jobs; as a matter of fact we are continuing to grow as an organization all over Wisconsin,” says Todd Wanek,Chief Executive Officer of Ashley Furniture. 

The article details how state officials approved $6 million in tax credits, and how Ashley's owners made a campaign contribution toGovernorr Scott Walker. Ashley officials say there's no connection between the two events and the tax credit money will be used for a flood control project that will benefit Arcadia.

“The state grant is going to be 100% gifted to the city of Arcadia to help flood control,” says Wanek.

“And it was the city's request and the tremendous significance for the need for a flood control project that we went forward,” says Koslo. 

Ashley officials say the creek in Arcadia has flooded many times, causing problems for the city.  The city has wanted to re-route the creek but has been unable to get money from the state or the federal governments. 

“If the city would not have made the request, we would not have applied for a grant of this nature,” says Koslo.  “If we don't meet those requirements we have to pay back 6 million dollars to the state.  Ashley, by giving 100 percent of the money away is actually being a good Samaritan, so I'm quite surprised that anyone would be critical of that.”

But Governor Walker's opponents have criticized the deal, saying it's another example of how his contributors benefit.



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Arcadia (WQOW) - An area furniture giant has been approved for a $6 million tax credit from the state, but won't be required to create any new jobs.  In fact, the company is being allowed to continue with a plan for job cuts, according to the Associated Press. 

The Wisconsin State Journal is reporting that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation quietly approved a tax credit for Ashley Furniture at the start of the year. It will allow the company to move forward with a $35 million expansion at its Arcadia headquarters and keep nearly 2,000 jobs in Wisconsin.

However, the WSJ says a staff memo outlines a plan for optional job cuts. The company agreed to retain 70% of existing positions in 2014, 60% the following year and 50% between 2016 and 2018. If it reduced its workforce by more, the state could take back the tax credit.

In a news release sent out on Sunday, Ashley says it's not reducing its Wisconsin workforce and has added 425 jobs in the state since 2012. The company says it used a very conservative job protection number in the proposal to WEDC to protect Ashley against future unexpected economic downturns.

Ashley also says the $6 million will be donated to the City of Arcadia to help make a flood control project possible. Plans include relocating a creek which flooded Ashley's property in 2010.

The WSJ also says other documents show Ashley Furniture donated $20,000 to Governor Walker's re-election campaign after the WEDC board voted.

It recently came to light that the WEDC has also awarded tax credits to a handful of companies that later outsourced Wisconsin jobs overseas. In response, the WEDC has said it's important to look at the bottom line, saying those companies have created nearly 1,000 new jobs and made more than $32 million in capital investments in the state as a result of their awards.


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ARCADIA, Wis. (AP) -- A Wisconsin-based furniture manufacturer has been approved for a $6 million tax credit even though it plans to lay off half its workforce in the state.

   The Wisconsin State Journal (http://bit.ly/1mFPUxq ) reports the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. board quietly approved the tax credit for Ashley Furniture Industries. It will allow the company to move forward with a $35 million headquarter expansion and keep nearly 2,000 jobs in Wisconsin.

   According to a staff memo, the company agreed to retain 70 percent of existing employee positions in 2014, 60 percent the following year and 50 percent between 2016 and 2018. Other documents show Ashley Furniture gave $20,000 to Gov. Scott Walker's re-election campaign after the WEDC board voted.

   Gov. Scott Walker, who chairs the board, declined to comment.


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Arcadia (News Release from Ashley Furniture) - Ashley Announces Growth Plan for its Arcadia and Whitehall Facilities

- Ashley is not reducing its Wisconsin work force, in fact it is trying to find ways to increase Wisconsin jobs.

- Ashley used a very conservative job protection number in the proposal to WEDC to protect the company against future unexpected economic downturns.

- Ashley has added 425 Wisconsin jobs since January, 2012.

- Ashley has opportunities for people to work in its Wisconsin operations and is looking for employees.

- Ashley is growing.

 In 2014, Ashley expects to grow its business by 7%.

 Ashley is working on an expansion of its Whitehall facility. This will be the second expansion in two (2) years.

  The Whitehall expansion will allow Ashley to move into a new product category for the Wisconsin operations: mattress manufacturing. This will add stability to Ashley's workforce.

 Ashley has refurbished a new facility in Independence, Wisconsin for low melt fiber production and this operation will begin in October, 2014.

 Ashley has invested millions of dollars into new manufacturing and warehousing equipment in its Wisconsin operations.

 Ashley continues to grow its IT infrastructure and is launching web sales in 2015. This expansion will create new high tech and customer service jobs.

 This growth and investments will add more Wisconsin jobs.

- Ashley provides health care insurance, retirement plans, a fully staffed medical facility and offers availability of prescription drugs free of charge to its employees.

- Ashley's pay system involves both base rates and incentives, the incentives and base rates have to be added together to arrive at the actual wage rate. The “ACTUAL” average wage for Ashley's direct labor employees is over $15 per hour.

- All money Ashley receives from the proposed WEDC incentives will be fully donated to the City of Arcadia to make its flood control project possible. The flood control project will benefit all business owners and residents that are located in lower Arcadia.

While Ashley Furniture is committed to Wisconsin, public flood control projects are the responsibility of government, not private individuals or businesses. Nonetheless, Ashley, acting as a good Samaritan, has been willing to guarantee investing a minimum of $34,900,000 so the City of Arcadia can receive the money required to complete the City of Arcadia's flood control project.

How will this be done?

- The Myers Valley Creek Flood Control Project- related costs are estimated, based on information provided to Ashley, to be over six million dollars ($6,000,000).

- The City of Arcadia does not have six million dollars ($6,000,000). In fact, its borrowing capacity is limited to approximately two million dollars ($2,000,000) and the city needs to reserve these funds for emergencies.

- Ashley, at the City of Arcadia's request, applied to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation for the money required for the City's flood control project.

- Ashley has committed to the city that it will donate 100% of all funds it receives from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation as a result of its recent incentive application to the City of Arcadia for its Myers Valley Creek Flood Control Project.

What does the Myers Valley Creek flood control project do?

- It will allow the City of Arcadia and the State of Wisconsin to protect Wisconsin jobs and create the opportunities for more jobs. It is unreasonable to expect Ashley to continue to invest and create additional jobs in a high flood risk area. Criticizing Ashley for not taking unacceptable risks is absurd. We need to grow Wisconsin jobs and not place them in jeopardy.

Is money from the State of Wisconsin or the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation free?

- Absolutely not, these incentives have to be earned. Most of them are tax incentives. What do tax incentives require? It is simple: grow your business and pay more taxes. If you do both, the state refunds a part of your tax payments back to you. When you then donate this money for a public purpose, this should be applauded and not criticized for a political purpose.


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