Officials: Dubuque IBM closure rumors are just 'gossip' - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Officials: Dubuque IBM closure rumors are just 'gossip'

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

IBM first came to Dubuque in 2009, promising 1,300 jobs. 

Since then, they've cut their workforce nearly in half -- while IBM nationwide has cut more than 16,000 jobs since 2012.

The latest round of cuts, and an article from Bloomberg Business, have many people speculating the company may soon be leaving Dubuque.

But Rick Dickinson, President and CEO of Greater Dubuque Development Corporation -- and one of the key players in getting IBM to come to Dubuque -- says that's simply not true. 

"Yes, IBM has downsized, but they're still in Dubuque, they're here for the long haul," he said. "All the rumors of their closure are gossip, and should be disregarded. And we're in very good shape."

The Bloomberg article also said that Iowa paid $50 million to bring IBM to Dubuque. Dickinson said that's not quite true.

"The company got about $25 million," he said.

The rest, he added, came back to the city in the form of tax credits -- many of them helping Dubuque renovate the historic Roshek Building in downtown Dubuque.

"Unfortunately, when you see people laid off, your eyes go to the job loss, but in fact we still have the 600 jobs, and we've had that capital investment and payroll in our community of a quarter of a billion dollars over the past five years, which has been a huge benefit to our region," he said.

Dickinson also said the notion that they thought bringing IBM to Dubuque would start a chain reaction of tech companies coming here is wrong.

"We were trying to recruit IBM, a Fortune 100 company and one of the most recognized brands in the world," he said.  "And we did."

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was critical of the company after they laid off more than 200 people in January. He wrote a letter to the company asking why they had cut so many jobs, while at the same time applied for more than 5,000 H-1B visas for foreign workers.

"IBM was one of the companies that I wrote a letter to that I wanted more information on to ask what good-faith effort they were making to keep people on the job, Americans on the job, before they brought people in as replacement," Grassley said.

He added that while the company did respond, they didn't answer his questions and he is looking for more information.

IBM in Dubuque is currently about a year into a five-year lease. Dickinson said they are looking to sublease two of the five floors they leased in the building, but that doesn't mean they're going anywhere.

And despite the job loss, Dickinson said job growth in Dubuque is at more than 2,000 over the past year, and the city is getting close to 60,000 people working in the metropolitan area.

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