By: Steve Trubilla
Novozymes somehow convinced your county commissioners to give them funding incentives of $930,000.
When asked if they really needed the money a Novozymes representative said, “yes and no.” This leaves me with the question of how did this deal even come up?
Did we, Franklin County, just go to them with our wallet open?
So what guarantee did the commissioners and your economic development director obtain for you? If this deal is about incentives, then it should be a two-way street.
Novozymes is clear; they get just short of one million dollars removed from their capital expense bottom line, and minimize their risk.
The expected answer to this should be, we will be getting more good-paying jobs with benefits. So how many will we be immediately getting? The answer is none.
Okay, it is a planned expansion so nothing will happen immediately, that is understandable. What is the time line for this; the details are a bit fuzzy?
For discussion sake, say the expansion is complete, how many Franklin County jobs were created; a hundred? No not a hundred, well that may have been too big an expectation.
Could it be 50? No wrong again. Is it unreasonable to expect maybe 10? It appears even 10 jobs cannot be guaranteed. In fact, not even one new job is guaranteed.
I am not going to rehash all the statistics; we all know it is about jobs. More and more people find they have to leave Franklin County to find a good one.
With just under a million dollars in play, it would not seem unreasonable to have negotiated for at least a few jobs right now.
I do not want to minimize the fact that Novozymes is one of the largest employers we have left. My information is they currently employ approximately 567 people.
The last thing we need is more empty buildings.
Back to the incentive for Franklin County. If there are no new jobs what about a guarantee that we keep the existing ones? No, you do not get that either.
In what I have read on this, I find there are no guarantees. There are possibilities, future projections, and the like. True, to get the incentive they have to do the expansion, but they do not have to do anything else.
Part of this package of incentives includes $24,400 for the Atlantic Corporation. The story with this is the same, no new jobs.
Try as I have to energize a real discussion about strategic planning for economic development, I have not been able to do so. In spite of clear and overwhelming evidence that a real plan does not exist, officials simply do not want to talk about it. Very simple questions go unanswered.
My opinion is that no plan is a plan to fail.
Over the years, you have spent literally millions of tax dollars in just salaries alone.
Expect to spend millions more.
In addition to this, you are spending millions for corrective maintenance because there is no facilities preventative maintenance program.
The courthouse and detention facilities are but two examples of this.
The rest of the story is no one really even knows the true state of countless other buildings and facilities.
When I ask questions about this I am told, “we are not in that business.”
Then there is the industrial park and the lawsuit for the airport; millions upon millions.
How did the property revaluation work out for you? That is a done deal too, nobody is talking about it.
Like I said, I could fill pages.
Here is a nice blast from the past.
Once upon a time there was a man and his wife in the building business here in Franklin County. You may remember them, Mack and Nita Mahoney.
Along with the building business, they were involved in all manner of things. One of them was a company called JAMAC.
Seems your county commissioners, the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments and others decided in the June 2010 time frame it was a good idea to approve a $125,000 USDA loan/grant for this JAMAC Company.
Well, I have obtained a bankruptcy document that shows $117,531 listed as an unsecured obligation. So what does that mean to you, the taxpayer?
Had I not told you about this, I doubt you would have learned of it. The documents state the loan/grant was to be properly collateralized. How then could it be it is unsecured? Who will be held accountable? Will anyone even bother to ask the question?
I tried to contact the Mahoneys about this, but it seems they are nowhere to be found; anyone seen them?
I do not know what else to tell you on these kinds of things. It is not like they are hard to find.
What is hard to find is an official with the courage and interest to make a difference.
Yes, politically it is dangerous, and there is no money in doing so. So, the question is why should they?
I know it sounds crazy, but how about because it’s right, and needs to be done?
Well, this weekend I am going to go to the Owen’s fishing hole and park.
Oh that’s right, it has not happened yet, maybe next year or the year after that.
Who knows, no one will answer the questions on this either.
By the way another million dollars is involved with this idea.