Nixon Hopes Incentives Will Keep Ford in Missouri

By Steve Rensberry

   (RPC) - 7/15/2010 - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon put pen to paper today at United Auto Workers Union Local 249 in Kansas City in signing a bill that gives Ford Motor Company approximately $150 million in tax breaks to stay the course at the Claycomo plant near Kansas City. 
   Ford representatives released a statement congratulating Nixon for the step, while reserving final comment on what the company ultimately intends to do.
   The bill was approved Wednesday after a filibuster that lasted nearly 20 hours.
   "We congratulate Governor Nixon and the Missouri State Legislature on the passage of the Missouri Manufacturing Jobs Act," the statement says. "We believe this will be a great benefit to the future of auto manufacturing in the state of Missouri," Ford statement released this week and reported by NBCActionNews. See video of 7/14: Ford incentives sent to Nixon's desk
   The bill was approved by Missouri legislators Wednesday after four weeks of contentious debate and a filibuster that lasted nearly 20 hours.
   The plant began production in the 1950s and employs about 3,900 people. It is a major producer of the F-150 pickup trucks and Escape SUVs.
   Although Nixon had not released a formal statement as of Thursday, a previous news release from the governor's office, following a visit to a plant in Dexter, explains his position.

July 7 News Release From Nixon's Office
   Speaking to workers at the Faurecia plant in Dexter today, Gov. Jay Nixon called on the General Assembly to reach an agreement this week to pass the Missouri Automotive Manufacturing Jobs Act to help save thousands of existing Missouri automotive jobs and attract next-generation automotive jobs to the state.
   Gov. Nixon called the General Assembly into special session on June 24 to pass the Missouri Automotive Manufacturing Jobs Act, after numerous conversations with legislative leaders from both parties.  At the time of the Governor's call, legislative leaders indicated that strong, bipartisan support existed to pass the act quickly, but the bill now remains unnecessarily stalled in the legislative process. Today, Gov. Nixon urged the House and Senate to work together to reach an agreement on passing the jobs act this week.
   "For more than 100 years, automotive production has been a critical component of Missouri's economy," Gov. Nixon said.  "As major manufacturers, including Ford, restructure their production operations, it's critical that Missouri has the sharpest, strongest tools available to compete for next-generation automotive jobs.  The Missouri Automotive Manufacturing Jobs Act would give us those vital tools.  I call on the General Assembly to get their work done and reach an agreement on passing this bill this week."
   Every day the General Assembly meets in special session costs taxpayers approximately $25,000.
   The Missouri Automotive Manufacturing Jobs Act would allow qualified manufacturing facilities or suppliers that bring next-generation production lines to Missouri to retain withholdings taxes typically remitted to the state.  To be eligible for these incentives, manufacturers would be required to make a substantial capital investment in production capacity and put people to work.  Incentives would be triggered only after a company is making that investment and workers are on the job.  Strict requirements would force a company to repay the incentives if that commitment were not upheld.    

   The total amount of incentives available under the act would be capped at $15 million a year.
   Manufacturers would not be eligible for any incentives until they had made a significant capital investment in the state and workers actually were on the job.  The Governor also has called on the General Assembly to pass legislation to offset the costs of the Missouri Automotive Manufacturing Jobs Act by reducing expenditures in other areas.
   Passing the Missouri Automotive Manufacturing Jobs Act has become increasingly important in recent weeks.  Ford Motor Co., which employs 3,700 workers at the Claycomo facility near Kansas City, is finalizing decisions about restructuring operations and locating production lines.  Other states, including Michigan, have come forward with aggressive proposals to compete for those jobs.  This legislation would help Missouri compete to bring next-generation vehicle production to the state.
    The Ford facility at Claycomo also supports a network of suppliers located in every corner of Missouri. The Faurecia plant in Dexter, which employs more than 900 workers, is a major supplier of emission-control equipment for Ford.  Other suppliers are located in such communities as Columbia, Farmington, Hannibal, Nixa, Perryville and Sedalia, producing seats, wheels, steering wheels and other components.  Relocation of jobs from the Ford facility from Kansas City would severely affect these suppliers and put Missourians out of work.
   In total, Missouri's automotive manufacturing industry contributes $4 billion annually to the state's economy, and automotive products represent 18 percent of Missouri's export market, according to a 2009 report by the Missouri Automotive Jobs Task Force.  Automotive industry suppliers, manufacturers and dealers are located in nearly every Missouri county, according to the Center for Automotive Research.


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Photo by Steve Rensberry (c) 2014