Sedgwick County Commissioners approve a forgiveable loan of $42,500 for Johnson Controls to add jobs in Wichita, but the issue came with long debate.
Last month the City of Wichita also approved a forgiveable loan for the company. In return, Johnson Controls promises to add 180 jobs and keep employment levels of at least 950 in Wichita. If the company does that for five years, it will not have to repay the loans.
During Wednesday morning's Sedgwick County Commission meeting, commissioners approved the loan 3-2, with Karl Peterjohn and Richard Ranzau voting against it. Ranzau says he believes the company is making the moves because it makes good business sense, and the loan is unnecessary.
"They're making a business decisions, decisions that have already been made and will not be influenced by this $42,000," said Ranzau during the meeting. "I believe this is a token amount, 42,000 for 182 jobs. Do you really think that a business that has $1.5 billion in profits is going to move 182 jobs based on $42,000? I don't think so."
Supporters of the loan say incentives like this are necessary in the current economic environment. Lynn Nichols, president of Yingling Aviation and Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce Chairman said, in a perfect world, cities and counties would not need to offer incentives, but, right now, other communities and states are actively trying to get businesses to move by offering incentives.
"What bothers me, particularly in our aerospace cluster we have in Wichita, and it's a jewel... everybody wants a piece of our jewel and they're trying to pick our pockets everyday," Nichols told commissioners.
Johnson Controls manufactures heating and air products. It plans to move some jobs from a facility in Oklahoma to Wichita.