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Company That Received WEDC Tax Breaks Plans 380 Layoffs

Appleton Lawmaker Criticizes Jobs Agency Over Job Losses In Her Area


Wisconsin’s oft-criticized economic development agency is taking heat again after a company that received hundreds of thousands of dollars in state tax breaks announced substantial layoffs this week.

VF Corp. says that starting in June, 380 employees will lose their jobs at its Fox Valley facility that makes collegiate apparel under the JanSport brand. The North Carolina-based company received $248,735 in tax credits from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and was eligible for up to $880,500.

Democrat state Rep. Amanda Stuck, who represents much of Appleton, expressed frustration at the news, saying the tax incentives were, “supposed to be for job creation and job retention. So they have all this money now they’re walking away.”

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The JanSport facility is just outside of Stuck’s district, but she said it’s conceivable that some of her constituents work there.

Stuck said the layoffs are the most recent in a string of such instances in which WEDC issued tax breaks only to have companies lay off workers.

“Is WEDC being really effective in growing our economy and growing jobs in the state?” Stuck asked. “Or is there a real issue there in terms of how they’re designed to give this money out if, in instance after instance, companies are closing after they’ve received very large sums of money?”

VF Corp. sold the facility to Fanatics Inc., which will keep 370 jobs.

In a statement, WEDC spokesman Mark Maley said the agency is reviewing the contract in light of the announcement and, “will take appropriate measures to ensure the company complies with the terms of that contract.”

Maley also emphasized that public/private development agency has “clawed back” about $5.4 million in tax credits since July 2016. He said the credits VF Corp. received were because the company added 40 jobs.

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