Mo. jobs chief defends review of sweetener maker
The Missouri Department of Economic Development is defending its role in the Mamtek controversy, in which the town of Moberly issued $39 million in bonds to build an artificial sweetener plant which never opened.
DED Director David Kerr told the House Interim Committee on Government Oversight and Accountability that his agency carefully reviewed Los Angeles-based Mamtek’s request for state incentives, which were not issued – but he also said that it’s not DED’s role to double-check every claim made by every company seeking tax credits.
“If we start assuming that every business that walks through the door is a criminal, then there’s gonna be a whole lot fewer companies and businesses walking through the door considering us as a state," Kerr said.
Moberly officials testified Tuesday that DED did not provide them with emails from a DED consultant revealing that he could not verify whether Mamtek had a functioning plant in China. DED General Counsel Chris Pieper disagreed in his testimony.
“We shared the concern (with Moberly)," Pieper said. "We didn’t share the email, but we shared the concern…we shared it on multiple occasions, by email, that we were doing additional research.”
Meanwhile, the chair of the committee conducting the hearings says he may issue a subpoena to Mamtek’s patent attorney if he refuses to voluntarily testify.