Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
Raytheon– like so many other multi-national corporations– is trying to hold our local government hostage in exchange for corporate welfare. “Give us money, land, and tax breaks and rework your infrastructure to suit us, or we may hire workers elsewhere” is the mantra of corporations and major league sports teams who pit cities against each other to see who will give them the best deal– at the expense of the taxpayers.
And cash-strapped local and state governments trying to “do the right thing” fall for this scam all the time. Currently, our bankrupt state is considering offering million of dollars in tax breaks to unnamed corporations to move here, and now the cash-strapped county and city are considering offering millions to Raytheon and Diamond Ventures.
In Plan aims to assist Raytheon expansion, Arizona Daily Star reports that the county was “stung by Raytheon Missile Systems’ decision to build a new missile facility in Alabama instead of Tucson”, and that this is the reason it is considering going further into debt to help Raytheon expand here. Part of the expansion is $8 million for the purchase of land south of Raytheon– now owned by Diamond Ventures.
I know that the county is considering this in the name of keeping “good jobs” in Tucson, but frankly, this deal is just corporate welfare. According to the Star (quoted below), one of the reasons that Raytheon expanded in Alabama recently instead of here was that there wasn’t enough room physically to expand in Tucson.
Taxpayers need to help facilitate Raytheon’s expansion because one of the reasons Tucson lost out to Huntsville, Ala., for Raytheon’s new missile facility is that Raytheon didn’t have enough room at its south-side site here, [Pima County Administrator Chuck] Huckelberry said.
When it awarded the new facility to Huntsville – which will employ an estimated 300 workers at an annual average wage of $60,000 – in July, Tucson was a finalist. But the company said Tucson was bypassed because of limits to expansion at Raytheon’s current missile plant and a lack of development-ready alternative sites.
Richard A. Mendez, Raytheon’s director of facility management, told the City Council that Raytheon is confined in a box where it is now, which causes problems for the company and limits potential expansion.
If Don Diamond has $8 million worth of land south of the existing Raytheon plant for sale, that sounds like there is room for expansion. This issue is that Raytheon wanted it for free; perhaps you could call it another corporate bailout? Certainly, it is corporate welfare. (Another question is: Where is this land in relation to the TCE-contaminated land near Raytheon, and is it really worth $8 million? From the map on the EPA Superfund website, Diamond’s land is definitely close to the contamination– if not overlapping. What would Diamond do with this land — other than sell it to Raytheon or the Tucson International Airport? No one would want to live between those two noisy and environmentally messy neighbors. And, if Tucson funds the purchase of this land, who owns this wasteland in the middle of no where? The taxpayers or Raytheon?)
I have an alternate proposal for that $40 million. Give most of it– say $30 million– to The University of Arizona to create well-paying, clean, non-violent jobs in research and emerging technologies. The UAFoundation has mounds of data that show small donations that fund pilot research projects help UA scientists gather data to win large research grants. Grant funding and the spin-off businesses that often are created by new research findings provide good-paying jobs, often in emerging industries.
With the remaining $10 million, invest in local small businesses and help them expand. Small businesses created by local residents have an investment in Tucson; they’re not going to Huntsville, Alabama or China. (You’ll note in the Raytheon deal that there is no commitment to stay or expand in Tucson.)
Raytheon and Diamond Ventures should be weened off of the teet of the nanny state. Let them make their own deal without taxpayer funds greasing the wheels. Also, if Raytheon wants the county and city to rework the roads south of town, maybe they’d be willing to pay a bit more in corporate taxes. (I’m sure they’ve got some sort of sweetheart deal now.)
Wry Heat in his column today questioned the plans to rework Pima County’s roads on the south side (at taxpayer expense) to suit Raython and offered alternatives.
I question why Pima County would offer $40 million in corporate welfare to a highly profitable, multi-national corporation whose primary business is fueling violence worldwide. If the county and city want to grow the local economy and create new jobs, invest in research and education at the UA and in local businesses.
Tucson Tea Party– where are you on this? You railed against corporate welfare for the big banks and the auto companies. Where do you stand on using taxpayer funds for corporate welfare for the military-industrial complex? State Senator Frank Antenori, what about you?