Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is pushing an economic development plan intended to incentivize General Motors to expand its automotive plant in Wentzville.
If approved by state Legislature, the plan would make the auto manufacturer eligible for more than $50 million in state tax credits. Parson emphasized that the company’s expansion was only potential, and a GM spokesman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the company won’t make any decisions until it has had more discussions with community officials and the United Automobile Workers union.
Parson visited Wentzville on Wednesday to publicize the plan. Parson also surveyed flooded farmland in St. Charles County during the trip.
He said the state legislatures approving the economic development plan is key to keeping jobs — and GM — in the state.
“For us to have the opportunity in the state of Missouri to even be in the process of landing this in Wentzville is a great opportunity,” he said.
If approved, the bill would give $5 million in tax credits annually over 10 years to auto manufacturers. To receive the money, manufacturers would have to invest at least $500 million in plant updates and commit to retaining jobs.
The governor is also supporting three related bills aimed at bolstering Missouri’s workforce and encouraging companies to invest in the state. One, known as Missouri Fast Track, would create a scholarship program for adults who are pursuing training and education in certain industries. Conservative members of the Senate have stalled that bill.
The Automotive Economic Development Tools bill could be introduced within the final weeks of the legislative session, which ends later this month. Parson said it’s urgent that the Legislature approve the auto bill.
“This is not a bargaining tool,” Parson said. “We’re talking about a billion-dollar investment in the state of Missouri. This is about doing the right thing. This is not a Democrat, this is not a Republican issue.”
Other vehicle manufacturers, such as Ford Motor Company and its plant near Kansas City, would also be eligible for the state tax credits.
Parson also expressed support for St. Louis-area emergency management teams, which are preparing for a summer of flooding.
Parson flew by helicopter over flooded farmland around St. Charles County on Wednesday. He said he was surprised by the extent of the devastation.
“You see how many people’s affected, and you see the agriculture side of this, which we don’t talk a lot about sometimes. But it has a huge impact on the state’s economy, when you figure 35% of our state is actually considered in a federal flood plain,” he said.
Parson said the state may consider requesting the National Guard or other forms of federal aid. Parson also said that he wants to work with governors in Iowa, Nebraska and other states to develop long-term solutions to flooding along both the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.
“We want a seat at the table of how these rivers are managed and can we prevent them in the future. We know that this is escalating with these floods, and we’ve gotta realize that. We’ve gotta figure out what we do five or 10 years down the road,” he said.
It's not clear yet how much damage the flooding has caused this year. County emergency management teams for the St. Louis region emphasized that the true extent of damage won’t be visible until floodwaters recede.
Missouri State Emergency Management Agency Director Ron Walker said that state agencies want to coordinate their applications for federal aid. Impacted areas must reach $8.9 million in damage to be eligible for a federal declaration of emergency, he said.
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