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Ashley Furniture says it will add, not cut, jobs in Wisconsin

ARCADIA, Wis (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Ashley Furniture of Arcadia now says it plans to add jobs -- not cut them, as allowed under an arrangement for a state tax break. Senior executive Bill Koslo says the company is looking to fill 200 vacancies at its Arcadia plant, and it wants to add more jobs.

The state's Economic Development Corporation approved a deal in January in which Ashley would get up to $6-million in tax breaks to expand its headquarters. The deal also allowed the firm to cut its 4,000 member Wisconsin workforce by up to half in 2018. The deal has not been signed or carried out yet. Ashley said it protects the company in the event of another disaster -- like the major flood in its hometown in 2010 which shut down the Arcadia plant temporarily.

The company said yesterday the proposed $6-million tax break would go to the city for a flood control project, after the city was rejected for other funding. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, Ashley Furniture told the state's largest business group it plans to grow its business by 7-percent this year, and open a newly re-furbished plant in Independence this fall. It's also working on a second expansion to its plant in Whitehall in the past two years.

While campaigning in De Pere yesterday, Governor Scott Walker said the city of Arcadia asked for the tax break so it could keep a major employer -- and the amount has not been finalized.