Lawmakers Offer Companies $700,000, but Details Aren't Public | Off Message

Lawmakers Offer Companies $700,000, but Details Aren't Public


Gov. Peter Shumlin and Sen. Jane Kitchel (D-Caledonia) at the Emergency Board session - NANCY REMSEN
  • Nancy Remsen
  • Gov. Peter Shumlin and Sen. Jane Kitchel (D-Caledonia) at the Emergency Board session
Gov. Peter Shumlin and legislators who serve with him on a financial oversight committee held no public discussion Monday about their votes to offer $700,000 to two companies they hope will open new manufacturing facilities in Vermont.

State officials refused to divulge even the name of a Canadian business they voted preliminarily to offer $200,000. The company, looking to expand in the United States, has considered the Northeast Kingdom for a plant that would hire at least 50 people. Its products and potential location will remain secret until negotiations are completed, members of the Emergency Board said.

Shumlin and the heads of the legislature’s money committees spent two hours behind closed doors discussing Shumlin’s recommendations to tap the Enterprise Fund to try to persuade two companies to open new facilities in rural areas. This special fund was set up to allow state officials to try to lure companies to move or expand in Vermont.

The bigger award — $500,000 — would go to G.W. Plastics, an injection-molding manufacturer with plants in Bethel and Royalton in Vermont, as well as in Texas, Arizona, Mexico and China. The company needs to expand because of a contract with a new customer. According to the Shumlin administration, the company has considered opening a new facility in New Hampshire close to its new customer. Vermont officials hope by offering $500,000 to the company, G.W. Plastics would instead expand in Vermont.

Sen. Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden) voted against giving the money to G.W. Plastics, but made clear as part of the proceedings that he couldn’t share the reason for opposing the award. Nor could the other two legislators and the governor justify their votes in favor, because of the proprietary information that had been shared during the closed session. 

The funding is contingent on G.W. Plastics expanding in Vermont and adding 73 new jobs.

The Emergency Board would need to meet again to give final approval to the $200,000 award, at which time the company's name and other details would be made public, the governor said. The Canadian company also is seeking tax credits from Vermont. Shumlin said he expects the company would make its decision soon.

“As soon as we have convinced them to come to Vermont we are going to tell you,” Shumlin said.