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Riley: State has other resources for industrial incentives

By M.J. Ellington
mjellington@decaturdaily.com (334) 262-1104

MONTGOMERY — If an industry wants to locate at the Tennessee Valley Authority megasite near Tanner, one key source of borrowing power for incentives likely won't be available.

But Gov. Bob Riley said Wednesday if a prospect offered hundreds or thousands of high-paying jobs, the state would provide needed incentives.

Earlier this week, Finance Director Jim Main said the state has less than $150 million in borrowing power before it reaches the $750 million limit on the Capital Improvement Trust Fund.

It was only in June that voters agreed to increase from $350 million to $750 million the capital construction bond limit a five-member commission can borrow for industrial incentives.

Incentives for large projects, including the $3.7 billion ThyssenKrupp steel plant near Mobile and a railcar plant in Colbert County, used most of the new borrowing limit.

The state has other ways to pay for industrial incentives, Riley said.

Planning is under way for an interchange at the megasite along Interstate 65 at Tanner. State lawmakers and U.S. Rep. Bud Cramer, D-Huntsville, pushed to get TVA to designate the area.

If a serious offer comes, Riley said, he will go to the Legislature and push for funding.

"I think what Jim Main said is true," said Riley. "If we had another mega project like ThyssenKrupp, we would not have enough capital construction bond capability to fund it," Riley said.

"But there are a myriad of other ways. It doesn't always have to come out of capital construction bonds," he added.

Riley said other incentives including work-force training, road and bridge construction at plant sites, and Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs grants to industries are examples. Much of the grant funding through ADECA is from federal, not state sources.

Alabama pays for bond-fund costs with royalties that petroleum companies pay on natural gas pumped from offshore wells. About 28 percent of the royalties go to the capital construction bond fund.

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