Southwest Virginia Population decline 2010-2018.

240 Phony Jobs and Corporate Welfare for Heritage Glass

April 29, 2014: WCYB TV is reporting "A closed glass plant is about to reopen, bringing more than 200 new jobs to Kingsport." Well not really. The press really needs to read the press release and put it in context.

The fact is something called Heritage Glass is supposed to invest $16 million to reopen a defunct Kingsport glass plant. They are simply patching up the old equipment and promises to hire 120 in ten weeks with some vague promise of 237 in some distant future.

They will make the same old "Patterned glass is used for shower doors, solar panels, dividers and privacy applications such as bathrooms, doors, sidelights, conference rooms and churches."

I believe this was the AGC Flat Glass North America plant that fired about 800 workers and closed November 2012.

These are not new jobs but simply rehires (at certainly lower pay) at the same old jobs showered I'll bet with generous Tennessee corporate welfare. They are supposed to start production July 2014. Stop claiming "new jobs" until they actually exist - and are not rehires in the same place doing the same thing.

Update - I was right: Another orgy of corporate welfare. The Kingsport Times-News reveals the details - Heritage Glass did not invest anywhere near $15.8 million.

The scam went like this: Kingsport gave Kingsport Economic Development Board (KEDB) $2.6 million to buy "34-acre site, excluding the AGC corporate office facility and credit union operation." It will then be leased back over 15 years - meaning as long as KEDB owns it no property taxes.

If the deal folds they get stuck with the property. To further quote,

Heritage Glass is purchasing the glass business line from AGC for $4.7 million ... "(Heritage Glass) investors have $2 million of their own money in this." In addition "they are expected to receive $700,000" in state corporate welfare.

Now we find out most of the jobs will be low-paying: "about half the new jobs are expected to be in the $14 to $18 per hour range, with the other half in the $10 per hour range." One can bet it will be mostly the $10 an hour range. Heritage is supposed to clean up the site.

That's little more than what a call center pays and taxpayers are on the hook for most of this project. In fact those voting the money never read the business plan:

(Kingsport) City aldermen also discussed what might happen if Heritage Glass officials fail.

"We have reason to believe in the worst world that if we had to sell this property, there are buyers," Phillips pointed out.

Alderman John Clark asked: "Who has seen the business plan to see the company will do well?"

Phillips responded: "The bank has seen the business plan, and some KEDB members have seen the plan."

(you idiots voted for it and didn't read the plan???)

Alderman Tom Parham added: "This is not different from other incentives we have put together in the past... The appraisal value of (the glass plant facilities) is about $8 million... It's really a low risk opportunity that potentially could provide some high-end jobs."

You are risking millions of tax dollars on "could" and it sounds like some believe it will fail? There's no market for this plant without another mountain of public cash. This is like the $60 million in incentives given to Eastman Chemical about 10 years ago promising 2000 new jobs by now - instead we got 300 layoffs. Yup sounds like a good deal for Heritage Glass investors.

History of Local Poverty

Ralph Stanley Museum.

"The most corrupt region is Southwest Virginia...more indictments for political and public office corruption have happened in this region than all other parts of the state combined." Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Governmental Studies.

"It's a little-known fact that roughly 20 percent of the children in Southwest Virginia live below the poverty line and go hungry every night." Kevin Crutchfield, President Alpha Natural Resources, January 15, 2009

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