Johnson factory rail line built with HUD grant help - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Johnson factory rail line built with HUD grant help

Posted:

By Capitol Bureau Chief Bob Schaper - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MADISON (WKOW) -- The following statement was sent by the Johnson campaign to 27 News:

"This grant was secured in March of 1979 by Wisconsin Industrial Shipping Supplies in exchange for a substantial business investment for the City of Oshkosh.  Ron Johnson moved to Wisconsin in June of 1979 and started Pacur, which has become a true Wisconsin success story.  Nonetheless, these allegations from WKOW are based entirely on dubious premises.  We have highways, railroads, post offices, water and electrical services among other public services that businesses rely on each day."

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Original Story:

MADISON (WKOW) -- A railroad line to Senate candidate Ron Johnson's plastics factory was built with the assistance of a federal grant.

According to documents from the Oshkosh city clerk's office, an Urban Development Action Grant in the amount of $75,000 was used to build a rail spur to Pacur, a plastics manufacturing company owned by Johnson.

The city resolution approving the grant was passed on March 15, 1979, the year the Oshkosh factory was built.

The money for the line went to Wisconsin Industrial Shipping Supplies, owned by Johnson's brother-in-law, Pat Curler. Months later, WISS changed its name to Pacur and the plant opened.

Johnson has said that he and Curler started the factory together, and in an interview with 27 News on Aug. 17, Johnson said he was a co-owner of Pacur on "day one."

Curler and Johnson sold the company in 1986, and Johnson repurchased the plant solely in 1997.

Curler's name, not Johnson's, appears on the grant application agreement, and it was unclear to what extent, if any, Johnson was involved in the grant application process.

During the Aug. 17 interview, Johnson criticized government subsidies and tax credits, saying they don't work well within a free-enterprise system.

"I'm in business," Johnson said. "I have never lobbied for special treatment or a government payment."

The agreement between the company and the city of Oshkosh called for the creation of 11 jobs, and required the purchase of 9.7 acres of land from the city. The company was also required to invest not less than $869,167 in the new factory.

The rail spur, from "the existing Soo Line tracks" to the factory, was to be built within 12 months of receiving the federal grant. When the HUD money was received and when the line was built was unknown.

In the Aug. 17 interview, Johnson said the existing tracks are used to bring raw materials to the plant, which makes medical packaging supplies, among other items.

According to HUD, the Urban Development Action Grant program began in 1977. Grants were used to help "distressed communities" for residential or nonresidential use. The program was discontinued in 1989.

Watch more on 27 News at 5, 6, and 6:30.

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