There is no shortage of communities looking to grow plastics plants. Even Palm Springs, Calif., is interested, as correspondent Roger Renstrom points out in this special report issue on site selection. Palm Springs may be one of the more exotic recruiters of manufacturers, but it is not unique in the need to spur economic development to generate tax revenue.
The competition for business always has been keen, as demonstrated even today by the historical rivalries between cities and among states. The types of incentive programs offered companies have evolved from free land and tax abatements to the construction of junior colleges for training workers, as Alabama agreed to do for Mercedes-Benz.
Business recruitment and retention has developed an almost desperate edge in some regions because of cultural changes that have affected the marketplace.
In the Carolinas, Tennessee and Kentucky, the once-mighty tobacco industry has an uncertain future, posing a severe economic threat to those who live and die by the product. A number of community leaders and state governors, with strong encouragement from power companies, appear to have settled on plastics as a potential replacement industry.
That has been the case in Virginia, where the state's economic development agency and a utility company have teamed up to go after plastics companies — large users of electrical power.
States that have targeted plastics are as diverse as Alabama and Nebraska, Ohio and Virginia. Each, however, has discovered that the industry, with its combination of technical knowledge and low-skill work requirements, is an ideal economic development recruit.
Not everyone wants a plastics plant in their back yard, of course. The industry's information and education campaign has helped reduce such opposition in recent years, but the sentiment is one not to lose sight of.