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Delaware County regroups after green factories fizzle

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A central Indiana county is pulling back its financial support for a pair of green-energy companies who so far haven't delivered on plans for factories with hundreds of workers.

The Delaware County commissioners on Monday approved withdrawing $5 million of property-tax support for Italian company Brevini Wind, which in 2009 announced plans for a 455-worker factory outside Muncie that would make wind-turbine gearboxes.

Brevini now has about 70 workers in Yorktown and will still receive $1.7 million in tax-increment financing revenue, The Star Press of Muncie reported.

In its 2009 announcement, Brevini said it would spend $60 million on the project after relocating its U.S. offices from the Chicago suburb of Vernon Hills. The new jobs were supposed to pay an average of $46,000 each.

Delaware County officials also agreed to let the other company, VAT Energies LLC, sell some unused wind-and-solar-powered streetlights that it expected to build in Muncie. The county hopes to recoup $250,000 it paid for a wind vane planned along Interstate 69 that was meant to brand Delaware County as a green manufacturing hub. It was never erected.

VAT Energies, a subsidiary of a German alternative energy company, said in 2009 that it planned to spend $3.3 million to open a 60,000-square-foot facility near Yorktown with up to 120 workers by 2011. 

"It's a hard lesson learned," county Commissioner Larry Bledsoe said about the agreements. "This is the best that it gets, unfortunately."

Commissioners President Todd Donati acknowledged that the agreement with VAT meant that the 100-plus jobs promised by German businessman Oliver Viehweider would never materialize.

Donati said the county would "get what we can, up to $300,000," from the sale of the unused VAT streetlights and save thousands of dollars from a potential legal battle.

"At least we get the $300,000, and we can move on," Donati said.

Brevini Wind has struggled to land projects in the troubled wind-energy industry. Company officials hope to win contracts in other businesses in an effort to employ 250 people by the end of 2013 under an extension of the company's job-creation incentives with the county.

Bledsoe said that VAT's failure was an unfortunate outcome of the pressure on communities to add jobs, especially in the wake of the recession.

"It's the result of very aggressive competition among local communities trying to get economic development," Bledsoe said. "You offer the best incentive you can. Unfortunately, some things don't work out."

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  1. I am not by any means judging whether this is a good or bad project. It's pretty simple, the developers are not showing a hardship or need for this economic incentive. It is a vacant field, the easiest for development, and the developer already has the money to invest $26 million for construction. If they can afford that, they can afford to pay property taxes just like the rest of the residents do. As well, an average of $15/hour is an absolute joke in terms of economic development. Get in high paying jobs and maybe there's a different story. But that's the problem with this ask, it is speculative and users are just not known.

  2. Shouldn't this be a museum

  3. I don't have a problem with higher taxes, since it is obvious that our city is not adequately funded. And Ballard doesn't want to admit it, but he has increased taxes indirectly by 1) selling assets and spending the money, 2) letting now private entities increase user fees which were previously capped, 3) by spending reserves, and 4) by heavy dependence on TIFs. At the end, these are all indirect tax increases since someone will eventually have to pay for them. It's mathematics. You put property tax caps ("tax cut"), but you don't cut expenditures (justifiably so), so you increase taxes indirectly.

  4. Marijuana is the safest natural drug grown. Addiction is never physical. Marijuana health benefits are far more reaching then synthesized drugs. Abbott, Lilly, and the thousands of others create poisons and label them as medication. There is no current manufactured drug on the market that does not pose immediate and long term threat to the human anatomy. Certainly the potency of marijuana has increased by hybrids and growing techniques. However, Alcohol has been proven to destroy more families, relationships, cause more deaths and injuries in addition to the damage done to the body. Many confrontations such as domestic violence and other crimes can be attributed to alcohol. The criminal activities and injustices that surround marijuana exists because it is illegal in much of the world. If legalized throughout the world you would see a dramatic decrease in such activities and a savings to many countries for legal prosecutions, incarceration etc in regards to marijuana. It indeed can create wealth for the government by collecting taxes, creating jobs, etc.... I personally do not partake. I do hope it is legalized throughout the world.

  5. Build the resevoir. If built this will provide jobs and a reason to visit Anderson. The city needs to do something to differentiate itself from other cities in the area. Kudos to people with vision that are backing this project.

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