St. Louis Post Dispatch: Chinese sweetener deal turns sour in Moberly:
By now, the SweetO plant on the edge of town was supposed to be up and running. It was supposed to be pumping out high-grade artificial sweetener by the truckload, paying nearly 200 people making $17.50 an hour, and serving as Exhibit A of how foreign — Chinese — investment could bring new life deep into the Missouri heartland.
Instead, the half-built plant sits idle, and the city could be on the hook for $39 million of the company's bad debt.
The collapse of the Mamtek deal has created problems in Jefferson City for politicians who supported this boondoggle. Chief among them is Missouri's Governor: Jay Nixon. The governor's official website touts the Mamtek deal and the 600 jobs it was suppose to create in the struggling town of Moberly. The announcement a year ago also includes this now ironic quote from Jay Nixon:
"At a time when too many American companies are shuttering their plants and moving jobs overseas, we are thrilled to have a global company creating hundreds of good manufacturing jobs right here in Missouri," Gov. Nixon said. "These jobs will be a significant boost to Missouri's economy and our manufacturing sector, and they're another positive sign that our economy is beginning to move forward. I am pleased that my administration was able to provide a competitive package of strategic economic incentives to help bring these jobs to Missouri."
Obviously, the absence of those jobs combined with an additional $39 million of debt will sadly extend the economic woes of Moberly. Missouri's state-level leadership needs to re-evaluate their economic principals, because they are making the same mistakes that cargo cult Keynesians at the Federal level are making. They are committing the fatal conceit which Hayek illuminated in this quote: "The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design."
“Substantial concerns have arisen regarding the entity known as Mamtek International Ltd. and its proposed construction and operation of a manufacturing facility in Missouri,” Koster said. “The Attorney General’s Office is assisting Prosecuting Attorney Mike Fusselman and the Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in reviewing this matter to determine whether any violations of Missouri civil or criminal laws have occurred. Our review of this matter will begin immediately.”
And Mamtek may have other casualties. The Source casts doubt on the pending Aerotropolis legislation in Jefferson City could be one victim:
...Nixon’s administration screwed the pooch so poorly with this China deal, can we really trust that he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to the China Hub project in St. Louis?
The stress of these deals is weighing on Nixon too. He appeared to lose it when talking with reporters last week:
Adding to Gov. Nixon's headaches is this report from the Columbia Tribune that Mamtek was suppose to entice Chinese investors to apply for a special EB-5 visa:
Mamtek US Inc. highlighted a little-known U.S. visa program as an added enticement to lure Chinese investors for the failed effort to build a taxpayer-subsidized artificial sweetener factory in Moberly.On a Chinese-language investor website, Mamtek sought 15 people willing to put $500,000 each into the project. In return, investors would receive an EB-5 visa from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, good for bringing themselves and their entire immediate family — up to three generations — to the United States.
I think the US (and Missouri) should provide incentives for international entrepreneurs with proven records of success to come to this country. That's one realization of the American dream. The problem with Mamtek, is that it looks a bit too much like it was nothing, but a front for the Mamtek Regional Center. The Mamtek Regional Center is listed on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website as Missouri's only "Immigrant Investor Regional Center" (here's a screen grab):