Wi-Fi Sensors' Doors Are Still Open
From Missouri Digital News: https://mdn.org
MDN Menu

MDN Home

Journalist's Creed


MDN Help

MDN.ORG: Missouri Digital News
MDN Menu

MDN Home

Journalist's Creed


MDN Help

MDN.ORG Mo. Digital News Missouri Digital News MDN.ORG: Mo. Digital News MDN.ORG: Missouri Digital News
Lobbyist Money Help  

Wi-Fi Sensors' Doors Are Still Open

Date: October 18, 2011
By: Jessi Turnure
State Capitol Bureau

After Mamtek's downfall gained state-wide attention, another economic development project could be following in its footsteps.
RunTime:  3:10
OutCue:  SOC

Wrap: Wi-Fi Sensors 60 miles north of Moberly in Kirksville has been struggling to keep its doors open since 2009.

But like Mamtek, officials remain optimistic of the company's eventual success.   

According to its website, Wi-Fi Sensors planned to produce transmitters that could be attached to remote devices and report conditions of those devices back to a central computer.  

Phil Tate is the director of job creation at Kirksville Regional Economic Development Incorporated.

He says at the company's start, Wi-Fi Sensors did not meet their original promise of 40 initial jobs.  

Actuality:  TATE9.WAV
Run Time:  00:12
Description: "I don't think that they ever employed even for a short period of time over probably 15 or 20 people. And of course, we're hoping that they could get back to employment and that their employment levels would be considerably better than that."

The company laid off these employees within an estimated 45 to 60 days of their employment.  

Wi-Fi Sensors Chief Operating Officer David Fuhr wrote in an e-mail although their staff is currently laid off, he and his brother remain optimistic that one of their many defense department contract bids will land and work can resume. 

David and his brother and Wi-Fi Sensors Founder Peter Fuhr opened the manufacturing company in Missouri in May 2009. 

Since then, the company has yet to establish permanent jobs or make loan payments.

Tate says if Wi-Fi Sensors does eventually succeed, the possible outcome would be an improvement to Kirksville's economy if they can reach their original job goal.  

Actuality:  TATE5.WAV
Run Time:  00:07
Description: "Forty jobs in a community of 18,000 people is certainly worth the effort. It's certainly worth our while and it's certainly an improvement to the economy."
Tate is unsure if Wi-Fi Sensors is closed or not.
David says although no one from their staff is currently at the building, the company remains open.  

Tate says the entire Kirksville community is disappointed about the outcome of this project. 

Actuality:  TATE6.WAV
Run Time:  00:12
Description: "When they're not successful in their operations even though that may not be our responsibility, it reflects on our organization and the success of our organization. We always wanna see taxpayer dollars used wisely and it's a disappointment when they're not."

The one-million dollar loan to Wi-Fi Sensors came from a state grant program.

Tate a former state legislator says this type of loan can be faulty since it is a high-risk federal fund taken from Missouri housing and urban development.

Actuality:  TATE2.WAV
Run Time:  00:10
Description: "The state will subordinate their collateral position often times to a second or third so that the project can get started and get underway. But that's no excuse for not repaying a loan."

Peter wrote in an e-mail they are fully aware of their delinquency in the loan payment and have been in contact with the Department of Economic Development numerous times to work out a solution.

Although the nation's current economic state creates more problems with new businesses, Tate says a company failing to repay a loan is not a common occurrence.

A state Senate committee is investigating Wi-Fi Sensor's default on the loan.  

Reporting from the State capitol I'm Jessi Turnure.