Broken record: McAuliffe deal moves money, jobs around

HANDS OUT: Former Gov. Mark Warner, left, and Gov. Terry McAuliffe embrace a corporatist agenda that gives public funds to private companies.

By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau

KING GEORGE, Va. — Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe boasts that his administration has closed a record 228 economic-development deals since he took office last January.

But instead of generating new jobs, an agreement the governor announced last week will merely shift workers between two Virginia counties while pitting one state-subsidized company against another.

Commercial Metals Co. – a recycling, manufacturing, fabricating and trading enterprise – will receive public funding to move into King George County’s industrial park.

Nine years ago, then-Gov. Mark Warner, a fellow Democrat, made an almost identical deal to bring Gerdau Ameristeel to the same complex. Now, backed by nearly $1 million in taxpayer subsidies, the global corporations will compete with each other.

With the CMC agreement, the state will provide $450,000 in rail-access funds. The company can receive up to $26,000 in job retraining funds, too.

McAuliffe said the state support “meets (CMC’s) current growth needs and provides capacity for future expansion.” Similar pronouncements — and cash — have been issued by Republican governors, as well.

Yet any CMC expansion may come at the expense of Gerdau, which previously received state funding, including rail-access improvements, to move to King George in 2005.

SpotsylvaniaThe rivaly between the two companies is already ramping up. In addition to moving employees from its Spotsylvania facility, CMC reportedly is recruiting Gerdau workers for its King George operation.

Joe Grzeika, chairman of the King George Board of Supervisors, said in a statement: “We look forward to forging another strong corporate partnership with (CMC), as we have with our other businesses. … Today is a great day for CMC and King George County.”

The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star called the CMC accord an expansion.

King George County Supervisor Ruby Brabo sees it as a location swap with little net gain.

“King George may see one new job created from this deal. If we are lucky we might get two or three new jobs,” Brabo told Watchdog.org. “I honestly do not see how anyone can call this a ‘great day’ for King George.”

Spotsylvania Supervisor Ann Heidig said officials there were concerned CMC was preparing to move out of the state.

“At least this way people can drive to a neighboring county to keep their jobs,” she said.

Kenric Ward is a national correspondent for Watchdog.org and chief of its Virginia Bureau. Contact him at (571) 319-9824. @Kenricward

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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