By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
RICHMOND – Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, Virginia’s designated “chief jobs creation officer,” doesn’t blame Terry McAuliffe for locating GreenTech Automotive in Mississippi.
“I certainly couldn’t criticize Mr. McAuliffe and GreenTech about taking the project to Mississippi,” the Republican told the Virginian-Pilot last Monday.
“The truth is Mississippi offered them a very attractive incentive package … Virginia would have been unlikely to match,” Bolling said.
Virginia officials working for Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, expressed “grave doubts” about the electric car company’s prospects in 2009.
The company is headquartered in McLean, Va., where McAuliffe resides, but signed a deal with then-Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour to build an assembly plant in rural Tunica County.
Mississippi “very aggressively courted us and put up in excess of $15 million for land and so forth that — I have fiduciary duty as chairman of this company as well as in charge of the shareholders, I have a fiduciary duty for the shareholders,” McAuliffe said in a 2012 YouTube video.
Accepting the public-financing package seemed to contradict McAuliffe’s declaration, which he made in the same YouTube interview, where he said:
“I’m proud to always say of all my businesses and the one I’m doing now with the auto, I do it all with private capital. I use my own money and investor money. I just don’t want the government in my business.”
The Mississippi agreement requires GreenTech to create 350 jobs and raise $60 million in capital by Dec. 31, 2014.
A Watchdog investigation found that GTA’s progress in Mississippi has been slow, and McAuliffe acknowledged to NBC-12, “It’s been hard. … All I can tell you is we’re trying.”
Though McAuliffe called the Mississippi package the best deal for shareholders, it was, in actuality, the only deal. Economic development officials in Virginia steered clear of the project, expressing concerns about GreenTech’s marketability, leadership and funding.
Bolling theorized that Virginia officials shied away because the company effectively was a manufacturing start-up, not an existing company looking to expand or relocate here, the Virginian-Pilot reported.
The state’s incentives are tailored more to existing firms, Bolling told the newspaper’s Julian Walker.
Though McAuliffe is former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and is the party’s gubernatorial candidate this year, he has praised Bolling’s work.
In March, the Washington Post quoted McAuliffe as saying he would have a place for the Republican in his administration.
“He’s been very active on job creation issues that he and I have talked about,” McAuliffe said. “And if I was fortunate enough to be elected the governor of the commonwealth of Virginia, I’d love to have him bring his expertise and background and his knowledge to work with me, so that we can continue to work together to create jobs in a very tough global economy.”
Kenric Ward is a national reporter for Watchdog.org and chief of the Virginia Bureau. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (571) 319-9824. @Kenricward
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