Zap, maker of too-cute three-wheeled electric cars, has just landed a deal to set up its manufacturing plant in Kentucky. The Bluegrass State’s governor Steve Beshear just announced the deal for a brand-new assembly plant in Franklin, Ky., which is reported to cost over $84 million to construct. The deal will include $48 million in tax incentives for Integrity Manufacturing (Zap’s partner), and the state could net up to 4,000 jobs with wages averaging around $20 an hour, according to Integrity.
Beshear was supposedly working so hard putting this together that he delayed his trip to the Democratic National Convention to make the announcement this morning. The news comes hot on the heals of other state governments pursuing alt-car companies’ manufacturing operations. Tesla was headed for New Mexico until the Governator himself stepped in and persuaded Tesla to stay in its home state of California. Cities within California are now competing to become Tesla’s new manufacturing home.
So with states like California, Kentucky and New Mexico pulling out the stops and throwing serious cash and tax breaks the way of companies like Tesla and Zap, the question is: What about Governor Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana and Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio?
Michigan, Indiana and Ohio have been hit hard by the current economic woes. All three states, once the manufacturing heartland of America, have seen many of the automakers’ manufacturing and assembly plants idled, slowed or shut down, taking with them thousands of jobs.
You’d think that people like Granholm, Daniels and Strickland would notice the industrial capacity going unused, the former factory workers in lower-wage jobs, and be able to see an opportunity ripe for the picking: Plants that would only have to be modernized and converted, rather than built from scratch, and a huge pool of workers that would not have to be trained, only retrained for jobs they once did as well as anybody in the world.
To us, it seems like an economic and engineering two-fer: rebuild America’s manufacturing base and get us on track for using cars that will wean us off our oil dependency.
The opportunity is there and waiting for the right people to come along.