Here's a little history to begin this post. Grainger Industrial Supply (also known as WW Grainger), a Fortune 500 company with a large facility in Janesville, made local blog and state headlines earlier this year when Gov. Scott Walker's economic development corporation reported that the company failed to reach employment benchmarks for state tax credits they received.
"In October 2015, at the conclusion of the contract’s 5-year retention period the award was closed out. WEDC determined that Grainger did not retain the jobs required under the contract," wrote Michels. "In November 2015, WEDC revoked the tax credits and has worked with Grainger to repay the $50,000 in credits thereby making the state whole."
After five years since the state deal with Grainger was consummated...
Grainger has not created any of the 130 jobs originally planned for the site and only retained 808 of the 1,169 planned to date.
Keep in mind the 808 number is the state's official head count of Grainger employees reported by WKOW in April of this year. To my knowledge, Grainger to this day has not disputed the state's 808 count although the Janesville Gazette claimed in May that Grainger had 960.
Now, the Gazette and Grainger have apparently agreed to list the company as having 1,125 employees in their latest article. I don't doubt the 1,125 number, but it does seem reverse engineered for public consumption to satisfy the 130 jobs benchmark of the now expired development agreements. Again assuming readers accepted the planted 960 number of employees in May or even the state's 808.
It's worth mentioning the city of Janesville in 2010 also gave Grainger a $227,500 loan "forgivable" on the creation of the same 130 jobs the state claims never materialized.
Unfortunately, the city or the Gazette have given no editorial notice or effort requesting Grainger repay the loan. In fact, since the state story broke, the newspaper refuses to mention any loan between the city and the company. It's like the loan never existed. How do you like that for a "watchdog" newspaper? LOL.
Of course the latest Gazette story on Grainger makes no mention on any of that. In fact, the newspaper takes the Grainger jobs messaging fiasco to a whole new level under the banner of a "hiring spree," stating that Grainger hired more than 578 new employees in this year alone. Yet, they're reporting an 1,100 count instead of 1,500 (using the Gazette's 960 or the state's earlier 808).
Because "new employee" hiring and job creation are two different things AND because the numbers don't add up, that can only mean Grainger purged almost half of their employees. That is not generally good news for their "older" employee stock. Also, a 40% - 50% turnover of employees is a huge reconstruction for any location to work around in less than a year.
The good news for Janesville is Grainger officials plan to keep the Janesville facility as one of three national contact hubs from out of the previous 150 locations.
The bottom line however is, Grainger (or any business in Janesville) can depend on the Gazette to ignore the math and rewrite their employee purge and shake-up not as a nearly zero sum gain restructuring (over the past six years) that it is - but as a massive hiring surge. That is priceless journalism.