By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
FREDERICKSBURG — A new television news investigation reported this week that the GreenTech Automotive company formerly chaired by Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe remains stalled in Mississippi.
NBC-5 Memphis’ news segment, titled “Missing Jobs,” recounted the hoopla over McAuliffe’s announced $60 million car production facility in Tunica County.
But nearly a year after the event attended by former President Bill Clinton and then-Gov. Haley Barbour, reporter Michael Clark declared, “The party is over.”
Clark said the only evidence of recent activity at the yet-to-be-built Tunica facility was mown grass.
Based on last year’s announcement, GTA’s operations “should be booming by now,” Clark said.
The NBC camera crew went to GreenTech’s leased facility in neighboring DeSoto County and found little to see there.
“Model cars are gone from the outside of the plant, and the only evidence Action 5 News investigators found of any electric-car production were a couple of cars whizzing around the parking lot — after we started filming,” Clark reported.
NBC-5 said it made “repeated requests” to enter the DeSoto facility, but was denied each time. Vice President for Sales and Marketing Marianne McInerney said 78 employees worked there. Clark quoted McInerney as saying the company was now “shooting for” completion of the Tunica plant by early 2014.
To meet the terms of a financial-incentive agreement with the state of Mississippi, GTA must invest $60 million and create 350 jobs in Tunica by the end of 2014.
Virginia state Sen. Tom Garrett, R-Louisa, told Watchdog.org on Tuesday that he’s still waiting for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service to respond to his concerns about the investor-visa program that GTA is using to raise funds.
“It’s nice that GreenTech has cut the grass. I can only hope that the federal government is doing what it should have done five years ago and look into this EB-5 program.
“I’m not asserting criminal wrongdoing, but if Terry has done nothing wrong, let’s open up the books on EB-5 funding,” said Garrett, a Virginia lawyer. “It’s about time.”
Kenric Ward is chief of the Virginia Bureau. Contact him at email@example.com or at (571) 319-9824. @Kenricward
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