Tight controls needed on industrial incentives
Etowah legislators are worried that their Goodyear plant with its 1,400 jobs may disappear. Thus, they want the Legislature to give incentives to existing industries to modernize the same way it pays industries to locate in the state.
Morgan and Limestone counties can empathize with Gadsden's desire to save the jobs because of the misguided effort to save the local Delphi plants.
In a 2002 deal, Gov. Don Siegelman agreed for the state to purchase empty Plant 22 and surrounding acreage as part of a $15 million incentive to update and stabilize the remaining two plants. The state paid Delphi $10.8 million and promised to pay more if the company maintained a work force of at least 2,800.
Employment today is about 1,300 and many of the workers are new, hired under a greatly reduced pay scale. And the vacant building is a liability.
The proposed incentives came up during the special session of the Legislature in which legislators are about to pass a $400 million package to attract new industries.
Sen. Larry Means, D-Attalla, promised to bring up his proposal next week during the regular session.
Existing jobs and new jobs both pay wages but there is a fundamental difference in helping an industry get started and in doling out cash to those already established.
Legislators said they will try to create a task force to recommend ways for the state to help existing industries. Any recommendations from a task force must include tight controls on such aid so that industries don't rely on monetary handouts when they hit a rough spot or want to modernize.