At a Tacoma liquor store this week, I overheard a clerk telling a customer that he is staying on when the store transfers to private ownership, in part because the state is offering a discount to new owners who retain the employees.
I asked the state liquor control board spokesman Brian Smith whether there is such an incentive, and he answered that there is. The agency’s director of business enterprise, Pat McLaughlin, said the discount is one way the state is seeking to lower unemployment payments to workers left without a job once privatization takes effect.
The state has budgeted $1.8 million to pay those unemployment expenses.
“In order to defer unemployment expense and to incentivize the employment of our talented displaced workers, bidders have been given the opportunity to earn a rebate of the 6% buyers premium they paid along with their winning bid,” McLaughlin said.
The rebate is calculated based on the number of workers hired beginning June 2012 to March 2013 (the period for which the agency was given funding). Private owners can earn a maximum payout of $30,000 a store based on how many former state employees they hire and how long they are employed.
“The three primary benefits of this incentive program is that it reduces the state’s exposure to unemployment expense, provides a financial boost to local small business, and returns skilled and knowledgeable people to the workplace quickly,” McLaughlin said.