An overzealous press secretary thought he struck early gold.
Unfortunately, based on what I have found, in his apparent enthusiasm, he has overstated the facts on ground in Columbus, Georgia.
I received the following e-mail yesterday from Rob Nichols at Kasich for Ohio:
NCR’S MOVE TO GEORGIA LEVERAGED WITH STIMULUS MONEY
Strickland’s Support for Federal Bailout Program Helps Pave the Way for Dayton Job Losses
Columbus, Ohio – According to the Columbus (GA) Ledger-Enquirer, Columbus, Georgia, plans to use federal stimulus money to purchase a building that NCR will use to house its new ATM manufacturing facility.
“Ohioans will remember that Governor Strickland led his fellow governors to Washington, D.C., to beg for federal stimulus money to bail him out. Now that same money is being used by the State of Georgia to lure NCR away from its 125 year home in Dayton, Ohio,” said Rob Nichols, press secretary for Kasich for Governor. “It is astonishing that Dayton residents’ own tax dollars are being used to finance the departure of one of the city’s most important economic assets.”
….. “Beyond the incentives package offered to NCR, Ohio offered no compelling economic reason to stay and conduct business in Ohio,” said Nichols. “Sadly, the Governor has done nothing to address the fundamental problems that have plagued Ohio’s economy for decades and have put us at a competitive disadvantage in our ability to bring jobs to this state.”
That’s fine, if you ignore the following, which of course you can’t — According to the Ledger-Enquirer (click on the fourth item at the link to get to the actual article), as of Tuesday, the stimulus funding in Columbus, Georgia is NOT “being used,” isn’t on hand to be used, and may not ever arrive (bolds are mine):
To get up and running quickly, NCR will move into the Corporate Ridge Business Park facility formerly owned and occupied by Panasonic, which has been out of it for almost two years.
The 340,000 square foot facility was purchased for $5.2 million by the Development Authority of Columbus.
To make the deal happen, the Development Authority and city of Columbus got “creative and aggressive,” said Becca Hardin, the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce industrial recruiter credited by Perdue, Mayor Jim Wetherington and NCR officials as the one who deserves credit for her work on the project for the last four months.
The city has said it will guarantee $7.5 million in incentives. The city has applied to the Economic Development Administration for $5.5 million in federal stimulus money to offset the cost of buying the Panasonic property.
“The city is the backstop in the event we don’t get the money from the EDA” Wetherington said.
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.
Now it may be that Columbus, GA will ultimately get the stimulus money (though given the likelihood that politics is involved in the EDA’s decision-making process, Nichols’s press release may cause its rejection). And of course, NCR is leaving Ohio because of its awful business climate whether or not the stimulus money arrives.
But the stimulus money is NOT currently “being used by the State of Georgia to lure NCR away from its 125 year home in Dayton, Ohio” — because they don’t have it to use it.
This is really weak.
Rob Nichols, you screwed up, and the center-right, sensible conservative Ohio blogosphere, including but not limited to the State of Ohio Blogger Alliance, is not going to pretend that you haven’t when we find things like this.
The press spokesmouth for the guy who wants to be Ohio’s next governor should be better than this. He has 17 months to prove it.
UPDATE, 11:30 p.m.: I’d say after looking over this Columbus (OH) Dispatch report that Columbus, GA can forget about that stimulus money and start working on Plan B (or I should say Plan S for “self-reliant) –
“We have applied for stimulus funding, but we haven’t heard anything whether we’re going to get the money we applied for,” he (Columbus GA Mayor Jim Wetherington) said. “If we don’t, then local government would have to foot the bill.”
Wetherington said he “personally wouldn’t have a problem” using federal stimulus dollars to lure jobs from one state to another, although he acknowledged that “other people might. This money that we’ve applied for is what President Obama said is going to be available.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who cast the deciding vote in the Senate to pass the stimulus bill earlier this year, was sending a letter today to Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke objecting to such us of stimulus money.
“He is writing Secretary Locke to urge him to prevent funds from being used for the purpose of building a new facility that would take jobs from Dayton, Ohio, to Columbus, Ga.,” said Meghan Dubyak, a Brown spokeswoman. “The senator would say the Economic Recovery Package (stimulus bill) was passed to create jobs, not help relocate them.”
Because of the Democratic majorities in Congress, it would be reasonable to believe that what Sherrod Brown wants, Sherrod Brown will get — which makes the Kasich release at the beginning of this post even more ridiculous and wrong.
UPDATE 2, June 5: An early morning report from the Columbus (OH) Dispatch indicates that Columbus, GA will probably have a very difficult time getting that stimulus money –
The White House appeared yesterday to rule out using federal stimulus money to help Georgia officials build a manufacturing plant for NCR Corp., which is moving its headquarters from Dayton to Georgia.
The effort by officials of Columbus, Ga., to seek money from the $787 billion economic-stimulus package provoked anger and outrage among Ohio politicians, who said federal tax dollars should not help NCR move to another state.
A White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said no stimulus money has been awarded, “and the administration obviously had no role in the relocation,” noting that NCR had decided to move before Georgia officials said they would apply for the money.
But the official added that the Department of Commerce, which has control over the money, won’t allow it be used to encourage “corporate relocation from one U.S. region to another and will review every request very carefully.”
However, the Commerce Department seemed to leave the door open to using stimulus money to help Georgia build a plant for NCR.
Another source, who also spoke anonymously, said a Commerce official told the staff of an Ohio lawmaker last night that there did not appear to be a direct link between NCR leaving Dayton and the request by Georgia officials for stimulus money. But, the source said, “We’re going to work to make sure this doesn’t happen again in the future.”
Rob Nichols loses either way:
- If the Obama administration stops the stimulus money from going to Columbus, GA, which in the real seems pretty likely, there was no obviously no justification for the press release.
- If Commerce lets it go because of the lack of a direct link, he was still wrong in issuing the release, because the stimulus money was not approved, and therefore wasn’t “being used,” at the time he issued his clearly false gotcha.
Kasich deserves better than this from his PressSec. He’d better get it, or it will be a long 17 months.