ARCADIA, WI - Ashley Furniture will forego $6 million in tax credits approved by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC) for its Arcadia, WI, plant. It also plans to return $256,706 in job-creation tax credits already received for its Whitehall, WI, facility.

The furniture company turned down the Arcadia tax credits even after WEDC approved the grants with provisions allowing the company to cut its workforce in Wisconsin in half. The deal would have required a $35 million investment by Ashley, which in turn, planned to donate the $6 million to the city of Arcadia for a flood-control project that now appears to be stalled without state or federal assistance, the company says.

“Our decision to no longer pursue the proposed agreement with WEDC will not affect Ashley’s Arcadia operations or employees,” said Todd Wanek, Ashley President and CEO in a statement. “Ashley...will continue to meet with the City of Arcadia to assist it in finding other sources for funding its much-needed flood-control project.”

The company also cited the limited availability of potential employees in Whitehall as its reason for voluntarily returning the $256,706 in tax credits. In 2012, the company invested $8 million to expand its plant with an expectation of creating 225 jobs by 2015. The WEDC approved approximately $675,000 in tax credits for those efforts.

However, despite spending $200,000 in recruitment efforts, only 87 new positions have been added.

Wanek also noted that Ashley, which says it is the largest U.S. furniture manufacturer, has added 350 jobs at its Wisconsin factories over the past three years. It employs 4,500 in the state.

"Although we are withdrawing from the program, we will actively continue our efforts to hire in Wisconsin," he added.

Last fall, Ashley Furniture completed Phase II of a major new plant in North Carolina. At the grand opening of its 1.1 million square foot expansion in Davie County, the company said it has created 657 new jobs at the plant, and plans on a total investment of $80 million.

Founded in 1945, Ashley Furniture, based in Arcadia, WI, has grown to become the nation's largest furniture manufacturer, with more than 11 million square feet of domestic manufacturing.

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