published Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Bradley legislator favors $34 million grant for Wacker Chemical

BY THE NUMBERS

  • $1.45 billion: The planned investment by Wacker in its polysilicon plant near Charleston, Tenn.
  • 650: Number of employees that Wacker plans to hire
  • $64.2 million: State grant awarded last year for preparing the Wacker site and roads
  • $34.6 million: State bonds and cash to be issued for further infrastructure work
  • $3.1 million: Tennessee Fast Track grant for employee training

Source: Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development

WHAT'S NEXT

Wacker will conduct a career fair from 9 a.m. to noon today at the Health and Physical Fitness building at Chattanooga State on Amnicola Highway. Wacker is seeking to fill 70 lead chemical operator positions with a starting wage of $15 an hour.

NASHVILLE — A proposed $34.6 million state grant for Wacker Chemical’s plant near Cleveland, Tenn., is drawing praise from a Bradley County lawmaker.

Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, said it will make a “welcome gift” for German company’s April 8 groundbreaking ceremony.

“They have greatly increased their investment so we are reciprocating from the state by helping them with infrastructure and things needed to be done to get that site ready,” Brooks said. “I’m very grateful the state is still able to do that.”

When Wacker initially announced plans two years ago to build its polysilicon production plant for the solar power industry, the facility near Charleston was to employ 500 workers. But in December, Wacker officials announced they were expanding their investment from $1 billion to $1.45 billion and employing an additional 150 people.

Earth-moving crews are already clearing the site off of exit 33 of Interstate 75 for the Wacker facility — the second such polysilicon plant to locate in Tennessee. Hemlock Semi-Conductor is building a $1.2 billion plant near Clarksville, Tenn., to supply polysilicon for solar panels

Gov. Bill Haslam included the Wacker grant in his proposed 2011-12 budget unveiled Monday. It would provide $5.2 million in cash and $29.4 million in bonds to assist with infrastructure at the plant.

The governor also recommended a $3.1 million Fast Track training grant.

The money would come on top of a $64.2 million infrastructure grant approved last spring for Wacker.

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about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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bpqd said...

At six dollars a meal, with at least 1.275 million Tennesseans needing food aid, it costs us 22 million dollars to feed our hungry three meals a day.

All in, our grants to this company will be the equivalent cost of feeding our hungry citizens, statewide, without exception, for five days.

The 650 potential hires are a comparative 1:1961 ratio of potential employees to known hungry people in our state.

The entire grant package is similar to taking food money away from almost 2,000 people for five days in order to give one person a job.

If we grant this money to businesses, it needs to come with an embargo on complaints about feeding our needy for the duration of the fiscal year which features the grant. We should hear no --no-- complaints from conservative legislators about the cost of our poor if we are going to give this much aid to those we know already have billions of dollars on hand.

Wacker Chemie is a great opportunity for our area; but, our constant obligation includes caring for our poor, our sick and our old. We have over 1.275 million of them that need to eat for the equivalent of the five days worth of food that we'd be giving to Wacker Chemie.

With billions on hand, it's obvious that Wacker Chemie doesn't need the food aid money. Keep this in mind when politicians talk about not spending more than they did last year.

Last year, they didn't give the food money to prosperous corporations.

March 16, 2011 at 7:47 p.m.
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