John Kasich recently announced Diebold would be receiving over $100 million in State and local economic development dollars including tax credits and loans to help move its headquarters. Kasich says we had to give them the money or else they were certainly going to leave the state.
Diebold, however, never seriously considered leaving Ohio and the company even told the Strickland administration they weren’t seriously considering it. But Diebold still wanted the money so they hired a company to get them an offer letter from North Carolina just so they could use it to extort cash out of Ohio using, in part, the rules included in the recently-passed House Bill 58.
American Greetings also received a generous incentive package of $93.5 million in State taxpayer money to help move its headquarters. Like Diebold, AG went to Illinois to get an offer letter as proof of its intent to leave the state. And like Diebold, AG never seriously considered moving out of state. Instead, they are using their new-found state money to help move their HQ across town, closer to their owners’ homes and into a development which is partially owned by the AG’s founding family.
Both out-of-state offer letters (which I’ve included below) were heavily redacted so it’s unclear exactly how much Illinois and North Carolina offered these companies in incentives, but I think it’s safe to assume that neither of these companies ever intended on leaving the state and the offer letters were really just for show.
And while it’s certainly not honorable or honest to pretend to be moving out of state to milk Ohio for extra cash, it’s certainly not an original business tactic. These letters have at least given the companies and John Kasich enough cover and ‘proof’ that people have generally stopped questioning the claims that AG and Diebold were seriously considering moving out of state.
We requested these offer letters from the Ohio Department of Development, along with the out-of-state offer letter for Bob Evans. The DOD was quick to respond and provided the two letters included below. But they also informed us:
“we have no record of any offer letters provided to us by Bob Evans.”
Which leaves us wondering: where’s the proof that Bob Evans was planning to leave the state?
Back in March Kasich announced the state was giving Bob Evans $8 Million in incentives to move its headquarters 20 miles from Columbus to New Albany. And Kasich used the same reason to justify the deal: Bob Evans was planning to move to Texas even though they have no restaurants in Texas and a representative from Bob Evans told Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman that they “had no intention of leaving the state of Ohio.”
Bob Evans was the first big incentive deal Kasich announced and he talks about it every chance he gets. While I don’t think the evidence supports American Greetings and Diebold’s claims that they intended to leave the state, at least they went the extra step and provided some evidence that other states were interested.
So I’ll ask the question again: where’s the proof that Bob Evans was planning to leave the state?