Company laying off 277 employees got $1M from WEDC for adding 26 - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Company laying off 277 employees got $1M from WEDC for adding 266 jobs in same location

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A Wisconsin company that will be closing one of its state facilities next year and laying off 277 employees received $1 million in state tax credits for creating nearly an identical number of jobs at the same location since 2014, according to data provided to 27 News by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Tuesday.

On Friday, Johnson Controls, Inc. notified the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development it will be permanently closing its Milwaukee Business Center in suburban Glendale and laying off all of its employees there beginning in January.

WEDC officials confirmed Tuesday the agency has awarded the company $2.46 million dollars in job creation tax credits since March 28, 2014 for two separate projects.

Johnson Controls received $1.46 million for the creation of 329 jobs at its corporate headquarters in Glendale. But the company also got another $1 million for the creation of 266 jobs at the Milwaukee Business Center (MBC), which is now shedding all of the 277 employees currently working there.

The company submitted those job creation figures to WEDC as part of its May 31, 2015 performance report.

27 News asked Johnson Controls for an explanation on the numbers, but was rebuffed by the company Tuesday afternoon.

"We won’t be breaking down employee levels or when employees were part of the MBC," Johnson Controls Spokesperson Fraser Engerman wrote in an email.

When asked if Johnson Controls would pay the $1 million back to WEDC, Engerman originally responded by saying, "We are not going to address the tax credit issue."

But Engerman updated that response hours later.

"I can tell you we are reviewing our agreement with the State of Wisconsin to determine our next steps," wrote Engerman.

The jobs are being eliminated as part of a decision made by Johnson Controls to consolidate the accounting and finance work done at MBC into other "global business centers" located in China, Mexico and Slovakia.

WEDC officials indicated they are looking at potentially clawing back the $1 million awarded to the company for the MBC job creation.

"All WEDC Economic Development Tax Credit contracts, including JCI’s, require the company to maintain existing and new full time positions for which tax credits have been verified," WEDC Spokesperson Steven Michels wrote in an email to 27 News. "WEDC has reached out to JCI and will work with the company to understand how the layoffs effect their Wisconsin operations and the potential impact on their existing contracts. All companies failing to fulfill contractual obligations are subject to penalties, which may include clawbacks or denial of tax credit claims."

One questions Engerman would not answer is when Johnson Controls opened the Milwaukee Business Center and if only eleven employees were working there prior to the 266 jobs were added after March 2014. The total number of employees there now is 277.

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