Benton Harbor — April 4, 2012 at 7:18 am

Benton Harbor’s Whirlpool Corp. – Corporate citizen or corporate blackmailer?


“I’m sure we can work something out…”

In a fawning editorial about Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool (linked in yesterday’s Emergency Manager news round-up), Tom Walsh of the Detroit Free Press wrote this:

[T]hings are improving, says Jeff Fettig, CEO of Benton Harbor’s largest taxpayer and corporate citizen, global appliance maker Whirlpool.

“Our view is that it’s working and a lot of progress has been made,” Fettig told me Thursday in Detroit.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let’s back up a minute here, shall we? Rewind.

…Benton Harbor’s largest taxpayer and corporate citizen, global appliance maker Whirlpool…???

Whirlpool doesn’t pay TAXES, Tom, you silly news guy!

Last May, I wrote this:

You know Whirlpool, the large corporation that is an integral part of the city of Benton Harbor and who received $3.87 million in tax breaks from the city last year as a bribe so they would build their new headquarters there instead of leaving Benton Harbor altogether?

According to Business Week, they haven’t paid a dime in corporate taxes in three full years. And, last year, they got a $64 million tax REFUND.

Just settin’ the record straight here, Tom. They are NOT a taxpayer in Benton Harbor.

In fact, given the power that Whirlpool wields and the way they dangle money over the city to extract the favorable business decisions and huge tax breaks, I’m more likely to call them a corporate blackmailer than a corporate citizen.

[CC image credit: onkel_wart | Flickr]