Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

State Won't Up Industry Deals; Carmaker Couldn't Get High Incentives

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

State Won't Up Industry Deals; Carmaker Couldn't Get High Incentives

Article excerpt

Byline: VICKY ECKENRODE and WALTER C. JONES, The Times-Union

ATLANTA -- Gov. Sonny Perdue, asked Monday about a German automaker's decision not to build a plant on a state-owned megasite near Savannah, said he's not sorry the industrial prospect got away.

It could be because another company is nibbling.

Perdue told community leaders at the Atlanta Rotary Club that he's opposed to offering expensive taxpayer giveaways to lure large employers.

"By and large, by the end of the day, incentives are at the bottom of the list," he said.

He said other states with a less attractive workforce and lifestyle need lavish incentives to appeal to companies that are hunting bargains but unwilling to commit to a long-term presence.

When a member of the audience asked about DaimlerChrysler's notice last week that it was forgoing a site in Pooler, Perdue said, "There are a lot of bottom-trawlers out there. . . . We want them to pick off the weaker sisters."

The state's incentives package played a role in DaimlerChrysler's initial consideration to build a $750 million, 3,300-employee plant in Pooler. But when the automaker proposed a smaller plant, Perdue's staff reduced the package of goodies unless the company signed a commitment to one day expand to the size of the original proposal.

Former Gov. Roy Barnes signed off on the state's initial offer of $320 million in cash, schooling and tax breaks to build a cargo van plant. The project stalled when DaimlerChrysler said it was shelving plans.

A smaller proposal recently emerged in which the company said it would build a $100 million plant starting with 500 workers.

For that plan, Perdue's staff offered $53 million in incentives, including 226 acres of land valued at nearly $17 million, waivers of corporate income tax and sales and use taxes, training for new workers, construction of a railroad spur and paving for an access road, said Loretta Lepore, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Economic Development. …

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