Delaware Online said:In what is being called one of Delaware's biggest days for economic development investment in years, a state panel voted Monday to commit more than $50 million to help new owners reopen the General Motors plant near Newport and the Delaware City oil refinery.
The Council on Development Finance voted unanimously on both efforts by the Markell administration, approving a $21.5 million loan to Fisker Automotive, which wants to build a hybrid car at the shuttered General Motors plant near Newport, and a $20 million loan to PBF Energy Partners, which bought the refinery from Valero Energy for $220 million.
At a time when many other states see little chance of reversing plant closings, Delaware should count itself lucky to be able to help create new sources of jobs, said Fred C. Sears II, a council member and president of the Delaware Community Foundation.
"That's the most impressive agenda I've ever seen there" in eight or nine years on the council, Sears said.
The money from the state's Strategic Fund is granted on the condition that both companies spend millions on capital improvements and create thousands of jobs. If Fisker can show it created 2,495 jobs associated with the plant and spends at least $175 million renovating the facility in the next five years, the loan will convert to a grant. An additional $9 million grant will help pay utility bills while the plant is being retrofitted and restarted.
"These businesses aren't just generating a few hundred jobs at the plants. These jobs are all over the place," Sears said.
PBF Energy's loan agreement also will convert to a grant if the company spends in excess of $100 million and supports 600 full-time jobs a year for five years.
"There are clawbacks in every one of them if they don't do it," Sears said.
PBF plans to restart operations as early as spring 2011. Fisker wants to begin production hiring in Delaware in 2011, and the first cars are expected to roll out in 2012.
On Friday, Fisker closed on a $528.7 million federal loan to turn the old GM plant on Boxwood Road into the U.S. manufacturing center for its planned line of hybrid cars.