Deal Protects Tax Dollars During Hemlock Lay Offs - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Deal Protects Tax Dollars During Hemlock Lay Offs

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By Adam Ghassemi

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – It's a $1.2 billion facility that's nearly complete, but in 2008 when leaders of Hemlock Semiconductor announced they were making such a big investment near Clarksville they had no way of knowing the future.

They didn't know polysilicon, the product used to make solar panels, would today be overproduced, and proposed tariffs to sell to China would lead them to lay off 300 of their 400 employees before production ever begins.

"If jobs don't come, then those triggers are never pulled," said James Chavez, President and CEO of the Clarksville-Montgomery County Economic Development Council.

Chavez said the deal to bring Hemlock came with strong safeguards, which mandate if the company isn't operating by the end of 2013 it will have to pay back the local land breaks it received on its 500 acre footprint near the Tennessee/Kentucky border.

"We didn't put money or we didn't make an investment and now are going to dump it on the back of the tax payer. We're kept whole. They will continue to pay that," Chavez said by phone Tuesday from an auto convention in Detroit where he hopes to attract even more companies to Clarksville.

Without a total of 500 jobs, Hemlock won't get as many tax incentives either. Even help from the state won't come unless the company can find a way to do what they promised.

But even with such bleak news, Chavez says people shouldn't stress over a situation they simply can't control.

"It's a setback. It's frustrating, but we've got a job to do and make sure that one we're trying to help these families that are impacted by this. And then keep creating opportunities to grow our region," he said.

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