Conway's gain .... | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Conway's gain ....

Posted By on Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 12:01 PM

... may be someone else's loss.

There have been hints that the new Hewlett-Packard service center in Conway, announced with great fanfare, might not mean good news somewhere else. The theory has been that H-P is doing some reorganizing and that new jobs in Conway might mean a loss of jobs elsewhere.

This story from Denver adds more circumstantial evidence that that could be true. Similar service centers were announced the same day for Conway and New Mexico. Looks like the New Mexico jobs will come in large measure from reductions in Colorado. Is there an H-P center elsewhere where workers are being given the option to move to Arkansas or be unemployed?

RELATED: My column this week, is about the H-P location and the secrecy that attaches to incentives offered to lure the plant here. I write that incentives are a given nowadays, but that secrecy should not be. The public, which is supplying the money, deserves accountability. I filed an FOI request for the incentive agreements after the deal was announced.

To my surprise, I got some materials in response today from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. Spokesman Joe Holmes explained that the AEDC no longer holds the attitude of old -- that exemptions allowed for economic development information under the law necessarily mean protection of every scrap of paper held by the AEDC, particularly after a deal has been announced.

So, I now have a copy of the deal between the state and H-P. Be still beating hearts: Some information is redacted, particularly key blanks related to specific numbers of jobs and specific wages and the formula for paying rebates based on those numbers.

I need to do some more studying of the document. If it is not as revealing as I'd hoped, it is certainly an improvement over past practices. Holmes notes, too, that when the rebates ultimately are paid, those amounts will be public information.

We still don't know precisely what types of jobs will be filled in Conway, though there's perhaps an indication in the Colorado article.

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