Incentive money for 2 firms OK’d

MONTPELIER — The Emergency Board voted Monday to authorize incentives totaling $700,000 proposed by Gov. Peter Shumlin for two companies, with the money coming from an enterprise fund containing $2 million for economic development efforts.

According to the Shumlin administration, $500,000 would go to G.W. Plastics in Bethel if the company accepts the terms. The company, as part of the deal, would create up to 73 new jobs to add to its current workforce of 300.

The company has no available additional manufacturing space at the moment and recently signed a new contract for additional work orders, necessitating expansion.

Gov. Peter Shumlin said G.W. Plastics has additional facilities in Texas, Arizona, Mexico and China and the proposed incentives are part of a pitch by the state for the company to expand here in Vermont. A potential new site has been identified by the company in New Hampshire, Shumlin said.

Gov. Peter Shumlin and the Emergency Board meet on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

Gov. Peter Shumlin and the Emergency Board meet on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

The Vermont incentive funds will only be awarded if the plastics firm expands in Vermont.

Also, Shumlin proposed to the board that an unnamed Canadian company be awarded $200,000 as part of an incentive package to build a new facility in the Northeast Kingdom. The company would create “in excess of 50 jobs over five years” as it investigates expanding into a U.S. market, according to the administration.

Shumlin said the Canadian company is deciding between Vermont and two other locations in the U.S. There is limited real estate available to the company in Vermont and the $200,000 would help offset the costs of renovating the space under consideration to suit the company’s needs.

Shumlin said the company, which would provide “good-paying manufacturing jobs,” is hoping to make its decision by the end of the month. The company’s name will be released if it commits to expanding in Vermont.

“As soon as we have convinced them to come to Vermont we’re going to tell you with great enthusiasm about the Canadian company,” the governor told reporters after the Emergency Board’s meeting.

The board met in executive session for more than an hour to discuss the offers. The 2016 fiscal year budget includes the $2 million enterprise fund, so the money has already been appropriated.

The offer to the Canadian company was approved unanimously, while the offer to G.W. Plastics advanced on a 3 to 1 vote, with Sen. Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden, voting against it.

“The two companies … would add over 130 good-paying jobs in Vermont in rural areas where we’re losing jobs. So we all know that our job growth is Chittenden-centric. These companies we’re considering today would expand in rural Vermont, and we need better jobs in rural Vermont,” Shumlin said.

The governor has touted hundreds of available jobs in Vermont while noting that employers have had difficulty finding the skilled workers they need. The available jobs notwithstanding, Shumlin said he is committed to bringing even more to the state.

“There is no such thing as enough jobs,” he said. “We should be growing jobs in good times. That’s exactly what I intend to do.”

Shumlin said Vermont continues to compete with other states to retain companies already here and to attract new ones.

“These are competitive times. We know that states are literally competing on a level that is unprecedented. And certainly, when talking about competing with the global economy, when we’re taking a foreign company from a foreign country and bringing them to Vermont, that’s always good news for Vermont. That’s always a win,” he said.

The two companies approved for enterprise funds Monday could qualify for job training incentives and additional tax incentives as well. Shumlin said the state is working on packages for both companies.

“This is a package, so not only did we talk about the funds that we considered today at the Emergency Board, but they’re also looking at our other tax incentives,” Shumlin said. “One good thing about Vermont’s tax incentives is that they really work. If you don’t create the jobs, you don’t get the incentives. We don’t waste taxpayer money throwing it at companies that would have come here anyway. We don’t give incentives unless they actually grow the jobs.”

Meanwhile, the board voted to raise the cap on tax incentives offered to employers through the Vermont Economic Progress Council from $1 million to $1.2 million in the current fiscal year. Stephan Morse, chairman of the council, asked that the cap be raised for the next fiscal year as well, but the board said it would need to meet again before doing so.

The additional tax incentives made available will be used in an attempt to keep G.S. Precision, a Brattleboro-based company, from expanding in New Hampshire instead of Vermont. The company, which has about 300 employees and is looking to add about 100, makes machined components for the aircraft engine, aerospace, medical, fiber-optic and automotive industries.

The Emergency Board is comprised of the governor, the chairs of the Senate finance and appropriations committees, and the chairs of the House appropriation and ways and means committees.

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