Vestas job creation pledge was fake
If you have at least half a brain and live in Portland, nowadays you spend much of your life walking around more than mildly outraged at the stupidity and arrogance of local government. But here's a story that really, really boils the blood. In a rare moment of lucidity, the Portland Business Journal finally gets around to reporting what actually happened with the Vestas office building deal:
When Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas announced plans to invest $66 million to renovate a historic Pearl District building for its new North American headquarters,... [a]mong the incentives it received from the state was a $1 million forgivable loan from the governor’s strategic reserve fund. But in order for the loan to be forgivable, Vestas was required to add 102 jobs within a five-year period and sustain that level of employment for eight consecutive quarters. If it failed, the company would be required to pay back a portion of that money.
When it announced its headquarters plans on Aug. 18, 2010, Vestas said it had 400 local employees. Based on that, Vestas would have been required to grow that total to above 500 and sustain it for essentially two years.
But in the time since that announcement, its employment has only shrunk. Today, the company says it has fewer than 300 workers, and earlier this month it announced plans to cut another 2,000 jobs worldwide. So is Vestas at risk of having to pay back the state funds?
According to Business Oregon, the state’s economic development division, the answer is no.
Marc Zolton, a spokesman for the agency, said Vestas fulfilled its job-creation obligation on Sept. 30, 2010 — less than a month after the company first announced plans for its project.
No, Vestas didn’t miraculously create 102 jobs in three weeks and then magically compress time to keep that level for eight weeks. Zolton said the state’s deal required Vestas to create those new jobs within a five-year period dating back to when the state began negotiations with the company. In this case, the start date was October 1, 2008.
What farookin' weasels we are dealing with here, friends.
So much of what the public was told about this deal was false and misleading. First of all, the city and state governments made it sound as though the sweetheart financing was being given to Vestas. It wasn't until much later that it was revealed that the subsidy actually went to Mark Edlen, Vestas's landlord, who has surely surpassed Homer Williams as the all-time biggest single fleecer of the Portland public treasury. Now we learn that the Vestas job creation promise was bogus. One shudders to think what other scandals lie in the details of the deal. Not that anyone in the mainstream media has actually ever even looked at them.
In 2010, Mayor Creepy specifically said that the transaction would "retain 400 living wage jobs, put 450 construction workers back to work and pave the way for 100 to 200 new jobs in the next five years." What a weasel.
Did the governor and the mayor tell us the truth? No. Did the media ask the right questions? No. Or else they didn't report the true answers.
And so we live with another Portland real estate development scam. 'Round and 'round it goes, and where it stops, nobody knows. What a dirty little town.