Container Company Receives $365,000 in Corporate Welfare

by Lewis Loflin

In another typical case of crony capitalism something called American Century LLC is supposed to be opening a facility in Bristol, Virginia. The local press and City Officials proclaimed 30 new jobs and "plans" to hire 65 total sometime in the future.

The first problem I ran into was nobody on the web ever heard of American Century LLC. or its Chief Operating Officer Mike Arnold. But Mr. Arnold finally admitted what the real deal was all about: "We're real happy to be here. I'm real happy to be home. We formerly operated in Elizabethton and closed down and I went into consulting. Now we're back in the business and there is a need for us."

If there is such a "need" for a company to test containers in the chemical and nuclear industries, then why doesn't Mr. Arnold go to a bank? I know Mr. Arnold is an honest business person and I wish him success, but it's not the function of government to engage in such deals. To quote the press:

"American Century will receive the majority of its incentive money up front to help defray startup costs, according to Andrew Trivette, the city's director of community and economic development. If the firm closes or fails to meet its performance standards within three years, it must pay a pro-rated portion of the incentive back."

In other words the taxpayers are fronting his private business with public funds. We've heard that about paying the money back in the past and it hasn't happened yet. This deal smacks of a copper pot manufacturer several years ago that was given a similar deal and folded within months. (In fact that company was located not far from where this company is locating.) How will they get the funding back if the company files bankruptcy and simply has no money? Is this secured?

Why did this company fail in Elizabethton and why would we expect any different here? The public is not allowed to monitor this firm for compliance and the whole deal was conducted in secret as usual. There is nothing illegal here, just more in my opinion a misuse of public funds.

The company is supposed to start sometime in October at a 21,000-square-foot facility on Beacon Road, an old industrial park it seems on the map. Also because this involves Bristol Virginia Utilities, it's unknown how much in backdoor subsidies this firm will get besides the outright cash gifts. Many incentives are given to companies through the local utility to hide the true cost from the public and shift that cost off onto other rate payers. This saves the Bristol Virginia City government from raiding their own cash reserves.

So the cost for 30 jobs if they ever materialize is over $36,000 per job, enough to send a resident to four years of college at a public university. They claim they will pay between $10 and $20 an hour. Can I see a list of those jobs? Ref. BHC 9/9/2011. The Company website is at www.americancenturyllc.com.



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