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Brian Bakst, Associated Press, Published April 17 2013

Minn. floats $15.4M in subsidies for biotech firm

ST. PAUL — State leaders are ready to commit up to $15.4 million in taxpayer subsidies to a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company to entice it to put an outpost in Minnesota.

Gov. Mark Dayton's office on Wednesday released a February letter from the governor and top legislators to a site hunter for Baxter Healthcare Corp. The Illinois-based company is eyeing a property in suburban Brooklyn Park for an expansion that could result in 200 jobs.

The initiative was dubbed “Project Fern” in the official communications because the Dayton administration signed an agreement barring it from naming the company. That agreement was waived on Tuesday.

Lawmakers have begun voting on the subsidies without knowing which company could land them. Some now say they are uncomfortable with the secrecy involving a request for taxpayer dollars.

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