As competition for industry heats up among the Southern states, economic developers might be surprised to learn that incentives such as tax breaks and low-interest loans play a lesser role in the decision-making process for those in the plastics industry. Rather, the location of a processor's major customers or its markets takes priority when it comes to choosing a site for a plastics processing plant.
Sid Rains, vice president of sales and marketing for Van Dorn Demag in Strongsville, Ohio, said, ``Getting a deal on electricity may be important, but not enough to be a sway if there's not one of those other drivers in the area.''
Kelch Corp. President Dennis Nourse said that ultimately, a company's decision to follow its customers and markets in the Southeast must be based on an economic test: ``Is this move doable financially? In some cases it won't make economic sense.''
Plastics Products Co., based in Lindstrom, Minn., selected Greenville, Tenn., because its major customer is there, said Pete Thompson, the company's director of sales and marketing.
``Had it just been the fact that the customer is there and no other types of incentives offered, we probably wouldn't have done it,'' Thompson explained. ``The final decision is an economic one, not just people smiling and welcoming us to the community. The incentives made [the decision] much more palatable.''
Kelch's Nourse said it's not just incentives that are important when it comes to relocation. ``It's more than incentives, it's people willing to help you resolve the issues to make your move to their community possible,'' he said.
Complex Plastics Cos.' Ed Christensen agrees, saying in some cases incentives are important, ``in other cases it's just the icing on the cake.''
Complex considered Mississippi as it looked at Tennessee. ``If they'd given us a lot of incentives, we might have gone there,'' Christensen said. ``But our customer was in Tennessee, so we went to the development people and said, `you're our first choice, what are your incentives to get us here.'*''
Anderson, S.C.'s willingness to aid Venture Packaging in building a plant impressed the firm and helped make the final decision on site location, said D. Craig Rathbun, Venture's vice president. The city helped coordinate contractors, bankers and building permits concurrently to meet Venture's deadline. Within 60 days, the firm was setting machinery in place for its scheduled June 1 opening.
Rehau Corp. chose the Cullman, Ala., site largely as a result of the help it received from the state in locating a site.
David Down, Rehau's vice president of production, commends various groups in Alabama, both at the state and local levels, that worked to help it find a suitable location.