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Chris Graham: Danville just got itself a better deal

Column by Chris Graham

A hundred sixty jobs paying an average wage of $50,000 a year. And they cost Danville and the state $590,000.

The quick math on that – we’re talking less than $4,000 a job.

Which puts the $110,000 a job that Waynesboro paid to get the PGI expansion that some feel would have had to have been done here anyway in perspective.

“They came one week, we went there the next week. The next week, we were buying a building,” Terrell Jones, the director of infrastructure practice for EcomNets, told the Danville Register and Bee of the quick courtship between the Herndon-based company and Danville.

EcomNets has purchased the former EDS building in the Danville industrial park with plans to open a plant to manufacture computers. Jones told the Danville paper that the company wasn’t interested in Danville at the outset, but changed its mind after a visit from the city economic-development department.

“The City of Danville welcomed us with open arms,” Raj Kosuri, CEO of EcomNets, was quoted in a press release put out by the office of Gov. Bob McDonnell announcing the news. “We met with the mayor and the City of Danville Office of Economic Development on our first visit to Danville, and from there it has been nothing but smooth sailing. Their support, guidance, and incentives helped us come to a decision to move our green technology center to Danville. For every 500 Verdio Green PCs sold, we can create one job in Virginia.”

The outlay from the public sector: $500,000 from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission and $90,000 from the Danville Regional Foundation. Both come with performance agreements requiring the company to meet certain benchmark goals.

Of the 160 jobs to be created in Danville, nearly half, 72 all told, will pay wages of $72,800 per year, according to the report in the Register and Bee.

The Waynesboro deal involving PGI provides more than $4.55 million in local and state incentives to the nonwovens producer to create 41 jobs with an average wage of $37,500 a year.

There are two ways to look at this compare-and-contrast, in my view. One is to say that Danville got itself an awesome deal that we can hope will pay off for years to come. I don’t think the second is to suggest that Waynesboro got for itself a bad deal, because we didn’t get a bad deal.

We may have overpaid, but we got ourselves a good deal.

Next time around, maybe we can put ourselves in a position to get a better deal.