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State says Little Tikes paid Pa. back

April 02, 1999|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. - All public inducement loans given to Little Tikes Company to build a plant here in 1991 have been paid back, and the toy maker, which closed the plant this week, has met all obligations for grants it received, a state economic development agency spokesman said Thursday.

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On Wednesday, State Rep. Jeff Coy said he wanted the company to pay all the money it received back to the state.

The closing, announced Tuesday, came as a surprise to the plant's 300 workers.

In 1991, Little Tikes received a $2 million state Sunny Day loan and another $2 million loan from the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority. The company also received a $1.5 million state grant for infrastructure and a $366,000 grant to buy the land for the plant and for job training.

Jeff MacLaughlin, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development in Harrisburg, Pa., said Thursday Little Tikes paid off the outstanding balance of $1.4 million on the Sunny Day loan and the $1.3 million balance on the industrial development authority loan on Saturday.

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In addition, he said, the company met the requirements of the grants by creating a minimum of 224 jobs in three years. "They had more than 300 workers," MacLaughlin said.

The company also received tax abatements from the Shippensburg Area School District for five years.

Coy said Thursday that that added up to property tax breaks for the company of up to $80,000 a year for total tax breaks of $200,000 to $300,000. Local taxpayers had to make it up, he said.

Coy said he wants the state secretary of commerce to investigate the funding. "We rolled the red carpet out for them now I want to make sure the taxpayers get their money back," he said.

He said if the commerce secretary won't investigate the Little Tikes funding, he'll ask to state's attorney general to do it.

"If everything is satisfactory then okay," Coy said. "The taxpayers in my area are asking me these questions and I'm going to get them answers."

Little Tikes, which has plants in Hudson and Sebring, Ohio, and City of Industries, Calif., is owned by Rubbermaid Corporation.

Last week the Newell Corporation bought out Rubbermaid to become Newell Rubbermaid, Inc., said spokesman Lance Macon at the company's headquarters in Rockport, Ill.

Macon said Newell Rubbermaid, a consumer products company, has $6.2 billion in annual revenues and employs 32,000 people worldwide.

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