CONWAY, Ark. (KTHV) - Millions of state dollars were spent to lure HP to Arkansas and open in Conway back in January of 2010.
With the coming layoffs, no one knows for sure if HP will have to payback anything, but State Representative David Meeks of Conway told THV 11 that there was a provision in the original deal that requires some payback if HP didn't meet certain benchmarks.
This deal included $10 million dollars from the state's Quick Action Closing Fund. That's basically a pot of money the Governor can tap to help close a deal with a business. Rep. Meeks said the money is authorized by the legislature every year. THV 11 learned that HP used the $10 million for developing its site in Conway in order to get a lower lease rate on the property.
The other big piece in the deal is the state's Create Rebate Program. That gives a company a yearly cash rebate over a certain period of time based on a percentage of payroll. With the coming layoffs, that incentive will naturally decline.
Looking back at the HP deal, THV 11 asked a Conway economic development leader if he saw anything in the package that could have been done differently to prevent this latest situation. He said no.
"You know, I think locally and at the state level it was put together thoughtfully, and this is still a very important business relationship not only for the city of Conway for the State of Arkansas," said Jamie Gates with Conway Development Corporation. That organization worked with the state on the HP deal.
These layoffs were all tied to an announcement HP made last year to eliminate 27,000 jobs nationwide. The goal is to streamline operations and catch up with the smart-phone and tablet industry.
Gates said that despite the job loss, two-thirds of workforce remains and that remains a significant part of the Conway economy. He also said down the road, the company may see these vacated seats in Conway as an opportunity to move another sector of its business here.
As for the displaced workers, Gates said that a job fair is planned July 19 at the University of Central Arkansas Student Center Ballroom. It runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The program is intended for those workers as well as businesses that could recruit them.