City and county sue Australian animal health firm that received local incentives
The city and county are suing an Australia-based animal health company that received startup funding from both local governments to begin operating in Lawrence.
The City of Lawrence and Douglas County filed a lawsuit against the company, Integrated Animal Health, in Douglas County District Court on Monday. The lawsuit alleges that the company breached its incentives contract, and the city and county are seeking to recoup one-third of a $100,000 grant provided to the company as part of the agreement.
Integrated Animal Health announced it would move its global headquarters to Lawrence in 2015. The city and county subsequently approved incentives for the company, including the $100,000 grant, which was subject to a three-year performance agreement beginning in 2016. The city and county also agreed to pay the company’s rent in the Bioscience and Technology Business Center on the University of Kansas campus for three years, for an amount not to exceed $115,000 total, according to the incentives agreement. The Journal-World reported in April that the Kansas branch of the company appeared to have closed its Lawrence headquarters.
The lawsuit states that after the company did not respond to letters from city staff, city and county attorneys sent a letter to the company’s registered agent, Edward Sloan, in March asking him to provide proof by May 31 that the company was adhering to the incentives agreement or to refund the $33,333.33 for 2018. Another letter was sent to Sloan and to the company’s president and CEO, Blake Hawley, in June, and no response was received, according to the lawsuit.
Integrated Animal Health worked with pharmaceuticals for animals, and was expected to provide five positions in Lawrence in the first three years of operating, according to the incentives agreement. When the company announced it would move its global headquarters to Lawrence in April 2015, plans were for the company to grow in future years to about 50 employees and a $4 million annual payroll.
The city and county are seeking for Integrated Animal Health to repay the $33,333.33 with interest. The city and county are also seeking for the company to pay the costs associated with bringing the lawsuit and “for such other and further relief as the court may deem just and equitable under the circumstances herein prevailing.”
Sloan and Hawley did not immediately respond to a Journal-World inquiry about the case. Hawley previously told the Journal-World that he and members of the company’s local board resigned last year amid financial questions related to the company’s founder.