Jay Nixon and the Department of Economic Development were behind the Mamtek deal to bring the supposed sweetener plant to Moberly, MO and create hundreds of jobs. Tens of millions of dollars were promised (and given) to the company, which went belly up before producing anything. They defaulted on a $40 million loan from the town of Moberly.
They were also behind the Wi-Fi Sensors deal, in which a million dollar loan was granted to the company which thereafter promptly went belly up. They defaulted on the million dollar loan.
Things haven’t been looking good. From the AP:
Rather than modeling Missouri's economic success, the collapse of the two companies has highlighted what some lawmakers fear is a disturbing tendency of the Department of Economic Development to rush through state-aid packages for businesses without properly vetting them.
And it turns out they didn’t stop there.
In another embarrassing example, Nixon traveled to Cape Girardeau in December 2010 to announce incentives for a local health care cooperative — only for it to be revealed in the media a few days later that the project was led by a man on probation for passing more than $90,000 in bad checks.
Nice. Those incentives were, thankfully, cancelled.
But this hat-trick of development nightmares has uncovered the litany of problems with the current economic development system in place at the state level. It’s truly a joke.
"There's no doubt that three separate projects with the same type of lack of oversight or due diligence is a red flag," said Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, a member of a Senate committee that has launched an investigation into Missouri's economic development policies.
A red flag is a good analogy, but may I offer another? An open invitation.
Missouri has now shown that the people in charge are suckers just waiting to be taken by the next pseudo-company or con-man who steps in line. The Dept. of Economic Development is an ATM.
They claim it to be anything but:
Department of Economic Development spokesman John Fougere said each application for state tax incentives is vetted by the agency to ensure it meets program requirements and produces jobs. He said the department is continually adjusting its due-diligence process.
"We take our responsibility of managing and investing taxpayer resources to help create jobs and grow our economy very seriously," Fougere said in an emailed statement.
More empty promises from empty suits.
This series of blunders begs one important question… how many other scammers have hit up the Show-Me State with their “Show me the money!” routine?