Tech Company CEO Says State Gives $ 6 Million As “Secondary Priority”
The co-founder and CEO of a Texas company that received approval for a $ 6 million state incentive to open an office in Waterbury said he would have chosen Vermont even without the promise of the state money.
Das Nobel, whose MTX Group company has worked for several Vermont state agencies in recent years, said he was drawn to Green Mountain State because it is close to Albany, NY. , where he lived for many years, and it reminds him of Bangladesh. , where he was born and raised until the age of 15.
“The incentive is a secondary priority for us,” he said of the Vermont Economic Growth Incentive, or VEGI, which provides grants to newcomer businesses if they meet goals of job creation or growth. other investments. MTX was approved for the VEGI grant in July, although the money is not available until the company’s Waterbury office meets the employment goals set out under the grant.
When asked if he would have opened the Vermont site without the grant, Nobel replied that he would, due to his desire to bring good jobs to a state in need.
“Absolutely,” he said on Monday. “I made my decision before.”
The VEGI program aims to promote business growth that would not have happened otherwise. According to the program’s 2020 annual report, VEGI has paid companies $ 27 million in incentives since its launch in 2007.
State auditor Doug Hoffer regularly criticizes VEGI and its directors, the Vermont Economic Progress Council, saying that it is impossible to show that a company has not moved to Vermont or has failed. developed in the state without subsidies.
In the case of MTX, Economic Development Commissioner Joan Goldstein said Monday that Nobel made it clear to Vermont officials that he was considering several northeastern cities for the company’s new location.
“They explained to us that Rhode Island, New Hampshire and other states were vying for this northeast headquarters or hub,” Goldstein said. A press release from MTX said the company chose Vermont after the approval of the VEGI grant.
MTX helps government agencies in 32 US states set up programs such as disease transmission tracking and unemployment insurance claims services.
Nobel, who lives and works in Frisco, Texas, is a fast-growing entrepreneur with big ambitions – including a plan to someday buy the Dallas Cowboys, according to the Dallas Morning News. This document also reported this summer that Dallas awarded MTX a 27-month, $ 295 million contract for services such as COVID-19. contact tracing, although it was later reduced to around $ 65 million. The New York Post reported in June 2020 that New York City awarded MTX a $ 46 million non-tender contract for contact tracing technology.
The Vermont Department of Children and Families and the Vermont Transportation Agency have both used MTX technology, according to Nobel’s wife and co-founder, Nipa Nobel. The state increased its use of MTX during the pandemic, calling on the company to help the Department of Labor as it was overwhelmed by its new, unforeseen job of funneling much more money to Vermonters through its system. unemployment claims.
MTX now employs 1,100 people nationwide, Nipa said. But the pair expects rapid growth. In May, Das announced the opening of an Asia-Pacific base for the company in Australia, with the expectation that MTX will have 2,500 jobs there within 10 years.
Global activity falls short of what is expected in Waterbury, where Das said he hopes to have 100 people within a year and 250 within five years. The wages promised are high by Vermont standards – $ 85,000 to $ 185,000, Nipa said – and many jobs will be remote, though company officials have said those remote workers will need to reside somewhere. goes to Vermont for MTX to qualify for the VEGI grant. .
Waterbury City Manager Bill Shepeluk said while the company’s presence won’t have much of an impact on municipal taxes, it’s a relief to have someone move into the space of the 18,000 square foot Waterbury Center recently released by Keurig Dr Pepper. .
“Occupied properties are worth more than unoccupied properties,” Shepeluk said. “Having 100 to 250 jobs at Waterbury is a good thing. ”
Das said he has long had a soft spot for Vermont, adding that his main goal in opening the Waterbury base is to help the state by providing jobs with good wages.
He would like to capitalize on the state’s natural beauty by creating a billionaire reunion, something similar to the Allen & Company annual conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, which last month drew Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos.
When asked why MTX was taking the $ 6 million in state money if its primary purpose was to help Vermont financially, Das said that aspect of the plan belonged to his management team.
“If he’s available, the team will explore that,” Das said. Nipa then emailed to say that MTX could have opened a facility in Vermont without the approval of the VEGI grant, but that it wouldn’t have been as large as it is now predicted.
Das added that he hopes his family can buy a second home in the state.
“I want my family to travel to Vermont regularly and vacation there,” he said. “It’s Vermont for me.”