Long Debate Ends With County Giving Forgivable Loan

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sedgwick County leaders have agreed to give Johnson Controls a forgivable loan, after a heated debate.

Commissioners voted 3-2, in favor of the $42,000 forgivable loan.

The Wichita company makes air conditioning units. As part of the deal, Johnson Controls would bring in 182 employees and maintain 1130 workers in Wichita for the next five years. If it doesn't keep its end of the bargain, it has to pay back the loan.

Commissioner Richard Ranzau said he doesn't support forgivable loans and believes Johnson Controls was going to bring those jobs to Wichita anyway. He also said the company has a profit of billions of dollars and a $42,000 loan from the county wouldn't help.

Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce President Lynn Nichols said there is competition out there trying to romance our companies.

"They are trying to pick our pockets everyday," Nichols said.

Nichols said when companies investigate moving to Wichita they want to know what incentives are available. The chamber then looks at how many jobs it will create and how much it will increase the tax base.

The city council voted earlier this year to give Johnson Controls a $42,000 forgivable loan.

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