Hope Turns to Despair in Moberly
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Hope Turns to Despair in Moberly

Date: October 18, 2011
By: Tong Gao
State Capitol Bureau

When the Moberly was trying to create 600 jobs through Mamtek, hope was found for the unemployed. But now with Mamtek gone, all that's left is despair on this empty abandoned facility, and the only sound you can hear is the wind.
RunTime:  3:15
OutCue:  SOC


[nat sound, wind].

Yet the City of Moberly is trying to revive the Mamtek project after its failure.

Meanwhile, the residents whom I talked with have simply lost their confidence of the project.


Run Time:  [???]
Description: "It's sad. I don't think they are gonna come through for us. A lot of residents are gonna be very disappointed and sad in the Moberly area."

After Mamtek collapsed, its founder Bruce Cole promised to bring the project back to life through a new sweetner company, American Sucralose Manufacturing.

Cole promised a payment of 250,000 dollars but has paid less than 20 percent of it.

The city of Moberly is still trying to get the deal work.

Moberly's Finance Director Greg Hodge says the New York bank's Wire Department told him the remaining 205,000 dollars payment was returned to Hong Kong because of a wrong routing number in the international transaction.

Actuality:  HODGE.WAV
Run Time:  00:10
Description: "We are still very hopeful. You know, if we weren't, we'd be looking other directions. We are still trying to make the deal work with him. All indications are that things are still going to happen."

China was celebrating a weeklong national holiday, hence the issues.

Hodege says he was expecting to receive the money when the holiday was over.

However, Hodge's hope soured the following week, when he said in an email that he "will be making no further comments about the situation."

Moberly's City Manager Andy Morris says he doesn't have any insights at this time. He is simply waiting for the money.

Actuality:  MORRIS.WAV
Run Time:  00:03
Description: "Well, again, they need to make the payment."
As of late last week, Moberly still has not received the payment.
Former Governor Bob Holden introduced the Mamtek project to Moberly through his Midwest US-China Association.

In an interview just a few day before the sweet deal went sour, Holden cited this company as a successful project that benefits local economy in Moberly.

Actuality:  BOB1.WAV
Run Time:  00:08
Description: "That's what we've been able to do with Mamtek and Moberly Missouri. This is about creating jobs in Midwest."

After problems came to light, Holden backed away from what he was proud of.

Actuality:  BOB8.WAV
Run Time:  00:09
Description: "What we do is getting information out, and if the parties want to talk, we encourage them to talk and whom to talk, and we step out of the discussion."

Mamtek solicited money from Chinese investors by promising foreign visas.

The EB5 visa program provides long term visa to foreigners who invest 500 thousand dollars in a U.S. development project.

A China-based firm Well Trend reported to the Columbia Daily Tribune that four Chinese investors have already put up 2 million dollars in the project.

Seattle attorney Dan Harris' law firm specializes in helping American and Chinese businesses.

Actuality:  DAN1.WAV
Run Time:  00:10
Description: "Maybe they actually had good intent, but no money, and they just believed that they could get whatever money they needed by generating these EB5."

The project's failure also has led to a downgrade of the city's credit rating from A to B. 

That means the city's future borrowing costs are likely going up, and the value of the bonds to investors has gone down.

Columbia Republican Senator Kurt Schaefer's district includes the City of Moberly.

He says the result is damaging the local economy.

Actuality:  KURTMOB.WAV
Run Time:  00:09
Description: "The downgrading by S & P of not only industrial development bonds but all bonding for Moberly is now going to have actual dollar impact on every tax payer."

In the mean time, the Missouri Senate Governmental Accountability Committee is investigating the issue.

It has asked the state's Economic Development Department to provide all the documents on the issue.

Reporting from the state Capitol, I'm Tong Gao.