Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue has come to Columbus’ defense in the battle over whether federal stimulus money can be used for the new ATM manufacturing facility scheduled to open later this year.
Perdue wrote a “Dear Joe” letter to Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday, outlining Columbus’ case for $5.5 million to offset the cost of buying the property and facility where Ohio-based NCR will employ about 870 people.
Biden, in a letter July 14, assured two Ohio congressmen, U.S. Rep. Mike Turner and House Minority Leader John Boehner, that Columbus will not receive $5 million in federal stimulus funds to help bring NCR jobs to that state.
Perdue took exception to that.
“Assertions that stimulus money is moving jobs from Ohio to Georgia are simply not true,” Perdue wrote. “The bottom line is this new factory in Columbus, Georgia will bring jobs that were outsourced overseas back to the U.S. We believe the manufacturing project is exactly the type of economic development project that you and the President have looked to foster with the stimulus funds and respectfully request your support of Columbus’ application.”
Columbus Mayor Jim Wetherington did not ask Perdue for the letter of support, but was glad to see it. If that federal money is not acquired, the bulk of the $7.5 million in incentives to lure NCR here would come out of the city’s general fund.
“I commend him for writing it,” Wetherington said. “That has been our position all the time. We couldn’t believe that we would not be eligible for the stimulus money.”
At the same time the manufacturing facility for Columbus was announced, Georgia scored a huge economic development coup, luring the NCR headquarters and 1,275 corporate jobs away from Ohio and to the Metro Atlanta suburb of Duluth.
After Wetherington disclosed that Columbus was counting on federal help to get the manufacturing plant, there was an uproar in Ohio. The reaction in Ohio was harsh and swift.
Perdue addressed that in his letter to the vice president.
“NCR will receive no federal stimulus funding to move its headquarters from Dayton, Ohio to Duluth, Georgia,” Perdue wrote.
In bold print Perdue stated that “not one Dayton job is being substituted in their new manufacturing plant to be opened in Columbus.”
At the bottom of the two-page letter, Perdue hand-wrote a note to Biden.
“Thanks for listening,” it read.
At the time the deal was announced in early June, Wetherington said the city had “a backstop in the event we don’t get the money from the EDA.”
If the city has to fork over money for the project, it will borrow the money and pay it back at no more than $1 million per year, Wetherington said at the time.