CADDO PARISH, LA (KSLA) - A Caddo Parish Commissioner is calling for some adjustments to a plan proposed last week that would have the parish putting up $7.5 million dollars to purchase the old GM facility and bring Elio Motors to the plant.
District 7 Commissioner Stephanie Lynch held a news conference Monday to express her concerns about the proposal, which she describes as the largest direct cash investment in the history of Caddo Parish.
"In a nutshell, we are considering buying the old GM facility to provide backdoor cash to Elio Motors, a startup manufacturer who has barely secured enough private investor interest to move beyond the concept phase of developing a three-wheeled vehicle."
Supporters of the plan say it will help the startup car maker bring 1,500 jobs to the parish.
According to Lynch, Elio's inability to raise capital at this point may make the deal too risky and speculative. "If Elio is having trouble raising $7.5 million to purchase the plant, Lynch says, where is the $200 million going to come from that is actually needed to bring those jobs to Caddo Parish," said Lynch.
While Lynch says she is not opposed to the parish purchasing the plant, she says is "concerned about the lack of private investment needed to actually bring those jobs to fruition."
In a statement released Monday, Lynch goes on to say that she has not seen the level of support from the business community and taxpayers who will be left holding the bag should the deal go south.
"This deal has not been properly vetted, and as currently proposed, shifts the majority of the risk and liability onto taxpayers," Lynch said. That's why she's calling for more input from the business community on the proposal. If the jobs don't materialize after 30 months, she wants a provision to be able to sell the property to developer so the parish can recoup its money. She also wants guarantees that the parish, Caddo Parish taxpayers, would get their investment back if the jobs don't come through.
Elio Motors wants to begin production on the vehicle, touted as fuel-efficient and affordable, as early as April 2014.
The public will have a chance to comment before the commission votes on the proposed investment at the next regular meeting, set for August 22.
District 12 Commissioner Ken Epperson, who supports the proposal, is also holding 2 public meetings next week on the subject. The first will be held on Wednesday, August 14 at 6:30 p.m. at the American Rose Center, 8877 Jefferson Paige Road. The second will be held on Thursday, August 15 at 6:30 p.m. at Western Hills Baptist Church, 4153 Pines Road.