PERRYSBURG, OH (Toledo News Now) - It borrowed millions of taxpayer dollars with promises of job creation, and the state of Ohio says Perrysburg's Willard and Kelsey Solar Group is not living up to those promises or making all of its loan payments.
The state said it has given Willard and Kelsey millions of taxpayer dollars. Now that the company is missing payments and progress reports show it has not created the 400 jobs it promised, the state said it is taking action.
The Ohio Department of Development, one of the state agencies involved, released this statement:
"The state's business incentives are designed to create jobs, and when companies don't live up to those commitments, the state moves aggressively and swiftly providing recommendations for potential next steps. The Ohio Department of Development is currently in dialogue with the company and other state agencies regarding Willard and Kelsey's job creation performance. Until such time as a decision has been made, it is not appropriate for us to speculate or comment on the ongoing discussions."
With all that is invested in Willard and Kelsey Solar Group, taxpayers said they are worried about what will happen if the company goes under.
"They need to be paying that money back to the taxpayer. Too many companies in the solar industry and the alternative industry have gone under and I feel we're not getting the money back," said Lisa Recker.
Perrysburg City Council Member Maria Ermie agreed saying the community will suffer if the company continues its failure to pay back loans and create jobs.
"I have friends who work there and obviously they need to remain employed. Not only were 400 jobs to be created, but they were to be very good paying jobs with nice benefits, and those are not easy to replace," said Ermie.
Now the state said it is hiring an accounting firm to take a closer look at the company's finances. Council members hope that will lead to more accountability.
"You have a far greater responsibility when you're spending taxpayer dollars versus your own dollars, or even privately-funded money. The taxpayers work very hard and they expect their tax dollars to benefit the community," explained Ermie.
People in the community said the entire process has been an emotional letdown.
"It would have had a very positive impact on the community, and right now it doesn't look like that's going to happen. It's uncertain as to what that building might hold going forward. We don't want empty buildings in town," said Ermie.