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Watchdog: Follow the Money

Hewlett-Packard to repay $459K in Arkansas state incentives

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Associated Press,Watchdog,Arkansas,Follow the Money

CONWAY, Ark. — Hewlett-Packard Co. has negotiated to repay $459,000 of the state incentives it received to build a customer-service center in Conway after falling short on hiring goals, according to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

The company received $10 million from an incentive fund the governor controls to go toward infrastructure for the Conway center, but the agreement included provisions for the state to reclaim money if employment goals aren't met. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Wednesday that a clawback provision in HP's incentive agreement was triggered by the company's failure to have 1,000 full-time employees after five years.

The company laid off 500 workers last summer at its customer-support center in Conway, which opened in 2010. But HP announced in December that it would be hiring 200 software programmers and analysts— jobs that will pay more than those eliminated last summer.

"We don't view this as negative by any means," said Scott Hardin, spokesman for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. "The agreement is set up to encourage the company to hire more employees."

Sarah Pompei, global media relations director for Hewlett-Packard, declined comment Tuesday as to whether any of those hires have been made yet.

"HP is deeply committed to our employees and the communities in which they live and work. We will continue to abide by the terms and obligations of the commitments we have with government agencies," she said.

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