Karl Dean's man for growth, Matt Wiltshire, called unanimous council support for subsidies for the relocation of technology business IQT, "evidence that it's a great deal for the city." According to published reports from the Great White North, IQT has not been a good deal for Canadian workers. IQT laid off a thousand workers in Quebec and Ontario immediately on payday even though Canadian law requires employers to give two weeks notice and severance pay.
Some reports allege that IQT's actions are retribution for worker attempts to unionize. That would be ironic, given that Mayor Dean considers IQT's relocation a feather in his cap and that the Mayor has been endorsed by labor groups, which themselves may not actually be welcome at IQT headquarters on 2nd Avenue. If the move was made because Tennessee is a right-to-work state, then that might effectively make the workers hired here scabs. 900 Nashville workers forced to take whatever they can scrounge are cheaper than 1,200 Canadians with a higher standard of living.
However, there is a portion of the $1.61 million in incentives Mayor Dean has promised that I find particularly troubling. According to the Tennessean, $650,000 is being administered by the Metro Development and Housing Agency to help with relocation and training costs. If IQT is firing hundreds of workers with no warning or severance, is there anyone left to relocate and train? Reportedly, IQT does not list any other locations beyond Nashville and the Canadian locations. MDHA has a track record of mismanaging funds and unrealizing projects, so that $650K grant needs to be monitored and accounted for. Whatever else we do we should never trust MDHA, but always verify.
Another possible blow to the Mayor's self-congrats comes from reports that IQT may be filing for bankruptcy and in receivership. If that news proves to be true the relocation will not be the campaign talking point the Mayor may have planned on in his economic development-schools-public safety mantra.
UPDATE: The IQT co-CEO told the Tennessean newspaper in a report out Sunday that he had no comment on what implications the IQT closures would have for Nashville. A Canadian commenter below posted an unconfirmed email she says is from that same co-CEO indicating the Nashville plans will now likely not materialize.