A wind turbine manufacturer that shut its Jonesboro production facility has agreed to repay more than $2.5 million in incentives it received from the state to open the plant.
Nordex said earlier this year it was closing the $40 million facility and laying off 40 workers because of uncertainty in U.S. wind energy tax policies.
In all, the state paid $3.91 million from the Governor's Quick Action Closing Fund for site preparation, training and infrastructure improvements. The company will pay back $2.31 million to the state and $204,814 to the city of Jonesboro. Nordex earlier returned $263,000 when officials there realized layoffs were imminent.
When the closure was first announced in June, Gov. Mike Beebe blamed a "dysfunctional" Congress. He echoed that criticism Friday in a statement announcing some of the incentives would be repaid.
“Nordex has been a dedicated partner in moving wind manufacturing forward and creating Arkansas jobs. Unfortunately, that dedication has not been shared by the United States Congress, which repeatedly fails to establish a long-term policy for wind energy,” Beebe said. “But even now, under these unfortunate circumstances, Nordex continues working with Arkansas to ensure that taxpayer incentives are properly repaid. Hopefully, the U.S. government will act more pragmatically in the future and Nordex will again ramp up production in Jonesboro.”
The manufacturing that had been done in Jonesboro was sent to Germany, though Nordex has maintained the Arkansas location for service, warehousing and training.
Grant Tennille, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, said the Nordex repayment agreement shows how "clawbacks" allow the state to recoup money from economic development investments that don't work out.
“The process works, and in this case rather quickly," he said. "When it happens that we need to use clawbacks, we will negotiate keeping the unique circumstances of every project in mind.”