Moberly Chugs Past Mamtek Failure
MOBERLY - Local business owner Lisa Casey has taken note of Moberly's changing economy since she and her husband opened the Funny Pages Cafe. She was one of many who had high hopes for Mamtek, an artificial sweetner project that promised to bring a big boost to the city.
"Mamtek, it was a great thing coming in, you know, everybody chattered about that," said Casey.
State officials announced the Mamtek project back in July of 2010, pledging $17.6 million dollars in state tax credits and incentives. In addition, the city borrowed $39 million dollars in bonds to help fund the construction of the plant. Then-Mamtek CEO Dan Cole said the company would employ 612 people.
State lawmakers first expressed concern when Mamtek failed to make its first bond payment mid-September. During phase 1 alone, the company planned to hire 160 people. Mamtek only hired fifteen workers, and laid them all off in less than a year.
Olivia Lindsey and her family moved from St. Louis for her job with Mamtek human resources in November 2010. This fall, Lindsey lost her job after Mamtek started to go under.
American Sucralose Incorporated later took over the project, but also failed to make a bond payment by deadline.
The City of Moberly has no plans to pay off $39 million of bonds issued on behalf of a failed artificial sweetener factory.
November 1 marked the deadline for Moberly to either put money back into the Debt Service Reserves or choose not to help out financially at all. Corey Mehaffy, Chairman of the city's Industrial Development Authority, said shouldn't be left holding the bag.
"The City is not legally obligated to appropriate city funds and the city council has determined that such use of taxpayer funds would not be in the best interests of the citizens of Moberly," Mehaffy said in a release.
The city also believes if it had chosen to replenish the funds, it would have only been a temporary fix and not a long term solution.
The fate of the project is now in the hands of its trustee, UMB Bank.
Casey said she and her neighbors have moved past hopes of Mamtek.
"We stick together, we still keep going, I mean you don't just fall down because one business decides not to come here, or fails, you just keep going, pull your bootstraps up and move on," said Casey.
Senate and House commitees are now investigating the project's fallout.