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|V-Vehicle delivers hope|
The dire economic atmosphere, which we have witnessed and endured in northeastern Louisiana for years, possibly marked a turning point Wednesday when a start-up company called V-Vehicle announced it would establish an automobile assembly operation at the former Guide plant in eastern Ouachita Parish.
We do not know much about V-Vehicle other than the individuals who run the company and the men who invested money in it obviously believe V-Vehicle can manufacture an automobile the public will buy. They obviously believe as well that the fuel-efficient automobiles V-Vehicle plans to produce at the former Guide plant will fit nicely in an environment in America in which going "green," or living consciously of the environment, has become the chic thing to do.
Quite frankly, we are not overly concerned with what V-Vehicle plans to manufacture at the former Guide plant as long as the company creates jobs for men and women throughout northeastern Louisiana and beyond.
According to V-Vehicle as well as Gov. Bobby Jindal and others, that is exactly what will occur in the near future.
In about 15 months-18 months from now, V-Vehicle intends to employ some 1,400 people at its manufacturing facility in Ouachita. It is expected another 1,800 spin-off jobs will be created as a result of V-Vehicle's presence at the former Guide plant.
Let us not overlook the construction jobs that are expected to be created when the former Guide plant is expanded from roughly 425,000 square feet to some 750,000 square feet. It goes without saying that construction work fuels all aspects of an economy.
There is a price to be paid, though, for all of the good news we heard Wednesday at a news conference at Guide.
The price entails the state's commitment to provide an incentives package worth anywhere from $70 million-$100 million. Local governments in Ouachita Parish, including the cities of Monroe and West Monroe and the Ouachita Parish Police Jury, will kick in another $15 million.
The federal government is being asked to invest in V-Vehicle, too, through loans from the Department of Energy totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. The state's congressional delegation, specifically Congressman Rodney Alexander, is carrying the water on that front. We certainly hope they are successful in that regard.
Under normal circumstances, we would be concerned with the amount of money the taxpayers are being asked to contribute to a private enterprise's pursuit in developing a product that has yet to be tested in the marketplace.
However, our concerns are somewhat satisfied, knowing the individuals who have invested their money in V-Vehicle are among the most successful businessmen in America. One of those investors is James Davison of Lincoln Parish, who owns the building where V-Vehicle will set up shop.
Davison has a long and storied track record in creating wealth as well as jobs and economic opportunities for others. In short, Davison demonstrated long ago that he knows a thing or two about the business world.
And we believe in him.
Yet, something else occurred Wednesday when V-Vehicle unveiled its plans to roll the dice, so to speak, on northeastern Louisiana.
We were given hope.
That is as important as the jobs V-Vehicle will create.