Alcoa's NC Jobs-for-license Offer, A Year Later

By EMERY P. DALESIO

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) â¿¿ Last December, a group of investors backed by Alcoa Inc. scrapped plans to bring 450 jobs to two new industrial plants at the former Alcoa aluminum smelting plant in North Carolina where once about 1,000 worked.

Clean Tech Silicon & Bar LLC's announcement that ruled out the site along the Yadkin River came three months after John Correnti and other investors struck an even bigger deal with Mississippi for a silicon metal production operation projected to employ 950.

That project, too, though, is having trouble getting off the ground despite $80 million in promised incentives from the state and local groups.

The financing problems that risk scuttling the Mississippi proposal likely would have been the same in North Carolina, Correnti said. State and local officials wouldn't agree to the bargain because it included allowing Alcoa a multi-decade dam license worth billions of dollars.

"I think it would have been similar," the former CEO of Charlotte-based steelmaker Nucor Corp. said of the problems.

The trouble some of the same investors have had in Mississippi validates doubts some North Carolina officials had that the jobs would appear as promised by Clean Tech and Alcoa, said Stanly County Commissioner Lindsey Dunevant, who until earlier this month was the board's chairman.

"It makes us feel like we appropriately judged the circumstances and that we weren't in a position to accept that proposal," Dunevant said. New county commission chairman Gene McIntyre declined interview requests.

A total of 250 of the North Carolina jobs that were to pay $55,000 a year were promised at a new steel recycling plant and a second facility producing silicon metal by burning gravel and wood chips to extract silicon for solar fuel cells, adhesives, cosmetics and aluminum. Another 200 support jobs were forecast.

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