In My Opinion
by Caroline Porter

A city betrayed.

Well, pardon me if I just throw up. Unfortunately for Maytag Corporation executives, all from out of town, I have a detailed record of the sacrifices made by the City of Galesburg and its citizens, Knox County taxpayers, the State of Illinois and Maytag employees to keep Maytag Refrigeration in Galesburg. It was 1994, and corporate executives began to cry the blues and threaten to leave town - so the community swung into action.

I was chair of the committee of the county board dealing with the question of whether there was any role the county could play in the huge dishing out of funds for a very healthy and wealthy company. This is what Maytag was promised in1995.

­­From the State of Illinois, Department of Commerce and Community Affairs (DCCA)$5,890,000

­­From the City of Galesburg: $3,825,000, ($2, 825,000 from a Sales tax on Galesburg residents and $1,000,000 from future tax abatements.)

­­My final report to the county board said, ''Enterprise Zone abatements continue until 2004.'' What a coincidence, that as soon as Maytag might have to provide tax support to the community and its schools, they decide to leave. The abatements began in 1988 and Maytag had not paid $1,672,842 in property taxes by 1994, $203,715 of which directly effected county tax revenues.

The total received by Maytag was $9,715,000.

I'm proud to say that the Knox County Board decided we could not afford to contribute anything other than the tax revenues of over a quarter million dollars we had already lost. County board member Steve Cramer and I visited the Maytag manager and Vice President Rick Folz after our decision and at one point he chuckled and made the comment that ''we didn't think we would get so much.''

I've never forgotten that. It made me view the whole process as extortion and I was opposed at the time to the city council's levying a sales tax on Galesburg citizens for such a purpose. But our community made a commitment to Maytag Refrigeration. Too bad they didn't make a commitment to us.

I imagine the local Maytag management personnel have been as much in the dark and are as disappointed and disrupted as the rank and file. This company move is indicative of what is wrong with the business and corporate world today. It's called greed. Nothing is as important as money - not people, not production, not performance, not the community which has supported them and their predecessors in good faith for fifty years. The Galesburg plant is considered one of the most productive of all. And we wonder why some of our young people have no incentive to work or do a job well. What is their reward?

I was shocked to read there are only 1600 employees left at a company which not long ago employed 2600, so the closing down process has been going on for some time.

The decision-makers at Maytag should be ashamed of themselves for deserting a community that has supported them so well. Galesburg and Maytag employees don't deserve it.

Caroline Porter is a freelance writer from Galesburg who can be reached at

Uploaded to The Zephyr website October 16, 2002

Back to The Zephyr home page at: