Hewlett-Packard, Nordex Take A Bite Out of Arkansas Jobs

by Chuck Bartels, The Associated Press  on Tuesday, Jul. 9, 2013 7:19 am  

Hewlett-Packard Co. announced Monday it will lay off 500 workers from a customer support center in Conway, dealing the state a second blow in as many weeks from once-promising employers whose Arkansas business models didn't work as expected.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP is to keep the center open. The company opened the campus in 2010 with 600 workers, with the expectation of twice that many people working at the campus.

But HP announced last year that it would work to "simplify business processes" and the layoffs came as part of that program, HP spokeswoman Sarah Pompei said.

To help attract HP to Arkansas, Gov. Mike Beebe approved spending $10 million from the Governor's Quick Action Closing Fund to help pay for infrastructure for HP's building.

Beebe spokesman Matt DeCample said the governor met with company officials Monday.

"They were very up front about their willingness to work with (the Arkansas Economic Development Commission) to return some incentives," DeCample said.

On June 28, Nordex USA announced it would end production of wind turbines at its factory in Jonesboro. The state has promoted development of wind energy-related companies as a complement to technology-based jobs.

AEDC spokesman Joe Holmes said HP will continue to employ "several hundred" people at the Conway site.

"They have been and continue to be a great company and a strong partner in maintaining good jobs here," Holmes said.

Holmes said that until Monday, HP had surpassed its obligations in qualifying for state incentives.

"We will be working with HP over the next few weeks to determine any funds owed with respect to the Quick Action Closing Fund," Holmes said.

Other incentives were performance-based, including a cash rebate equal to five percent of payroll for 10 years and a 1 percent income tax credit for five years for payroll for new jobs.



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