Breaking Wind

How a foreign wind power company took tens of millions of U.S. dollars before laying-off hundreds of Americans

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The struggling, foreign-owned wind power company that laid off two-thirds of its Arkansas workforce earlier this month after receiving more than $30 million in aid from the federal government also received $15 million from the state of Arkansas and was heavily promoted by the state’s Democratic governor.

LM Wind Power, a Denmark-based global wind energy firm, promised to bring 1,000 jobs to Little Rock, Ark., when its manufacturing facility broke ground in 2007. In return, it received $15 million from the state and a multitude of tax breaks.

According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the firm received $6.9 million from Arkansas Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe’s Quick Action Closing Fund, and $8 million from the state’s Economic Infrastructure Fund. It also received a 25-year corporate income tax exemption, sales-tax refunds on building materials and equipment, and a 5 percent rebate on new payroll for 10 years.

"Today we celebrate the result of this successful partnership," Beebe announced in 2008 when LM Wind Power opened its doors.

Beebe has been an ardent supporter of subsidizing wind energy.

"Anyone standing in the way of this industry, frankly, they’re un-American," Beebe said at a June wind power conference in Atlanta. LM Wind Power’s global headquarters is located in Denmark.

However, early this August, just days after a $32 million loan from the Export-Import (Ex-IM) Bank was approved to a Brazilian company to purchase LM Wind turbines from its Arkansas facility, the firm laid off 234 of the Arkansas plant’s roughly 300 workers.

"We have this week told our workforce that we are re-sizing our workforce and business to fit our plans for 2013," Adam Ruple, human resources director for LM Wind Power, told the City Wire of Arkansas.

In its press release, the Ex-Im Bank claimed the loan would support "250 permanent American jobs."

The Ex-Im Bank was created in 1934 by Franklin Roosevelt to facilitate trade between the U.S and other nations. Over the past five years, the bank has supported $314.6 million in Arkansas exports.

The Ex-Im Bank enjoys broad support from a majority of congressional Democrats and Republicans, who say it bolsters U.S. exports.

"We’re helping thousands of businesses sell more of their products and services overseas," President Obama said after Congress recently extended funding for the Ex-Im Bank through 2014.

Under a deal cut in Congress by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, the bank’s lending limit was increased to $140 billion over three years, up from its previous $100 billion limit.

The Senate rejected an amendment offered by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, to abolish the bank.

Arkansas Republican Rep. Tim Griffin was in the minority of House members to oppose the reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank.

"The federal government should not be in the business of subsidizing foreign companies and putting hardworking American taxpayer dollars at risk," Rep. Tim Griffin said at the time. "For decades, the federal government has subsidized credit through the Ex-Im Bank instead of encouraging private-sector financing through the market."

Gov. Beebe’s office did not return multiple requests for comment.

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission, which handles the state’s Economic Infrastructure Fund, did not return requests for comment.

When reached by phone, LM Wind Power’s American headquarters directed the Free Beacon to its Denmark offices.

The firm’s Denmark headquarters did not return multiple requests for comment.