, Muskogee, OK

November 13, 2012

Company to invest $11.8M at port

Officials OK resolutions in support

By D.E. Smoot
Phoenix Staff Writer

— City and county officials approved resolutions Tuesday in support of a port-based company’s plans to expand its plant operations and increase employment.

The company, V&M TCA, employs more than 200 people in support of its operations at the Port of Muskogee. The company, which has had a presence in Muskogee for 20 years, is a subsidiary of V&M STAR, the nation’s leading producer of seamless tubular products.

The company plans to make an $11.8 million investment in its port operations. The expansion would include the addition of “25 new, high-quality jobs.” Attempts to contact company officials were unsuccessful.

Resolutions approved Tuesday by county commissioners and city councilors during two separate meetings are being offered in support of the company’s application for pooled finance incentive funds. The resolutions are required as part of the company’s application with the Oklahoma Department of Commerce for the pooled incentive funds.

Brien Thorstenberg, director of economic development for the port authority, said the company recently added 40 new jobs with average annual wages of $48,000. The $3 million sought from Department of Commerce fund, Thorstenberg said, would be used to replace equipment damaged in an October fire. The company, Thorstenberg said, would invest another $8 million to upgrade and expand its physical plant.

The pooled incentive funds being sought through the state program are secured by employee tax withholdings, which are placed into trust. Thorstenberg said the application process is highly competitive and based upon points, some of which are awarded for resolutions of support similar to those approved by commissioners and councilors — the Muskogee City-County Port Authority is expected to adopt a resolution of support next week.

Approval is contingent upon a finding the project being funded would produce a “positive net benefit rate” to the state. Those might include projected tax revenue resulting from new jobs and revenue generated by ancillary support jobs minus the state’s cost arising from the creation of those jobs.

District 1 Commissioner Gene Wallace said if the state approves the funding application, the county would face no financial exposure. In a letter approved Monday, commissioners expressed their commitment of support industrial expansion efforts within the county.

“V&M TCA is a quality contributor of employment and in (a) time of industrial retraction is considering expansion of its existing operation that is so badly needed in our community,” the commissioners wrote in their letter of support. The company “is seeking a $3 million incentive agreement under the provisions of the program and appears to meet all requirements of the program’s intent.”

A similar resolution approved Tuesday by the city councilors expressed similar support for the company’s planned expansion. It states “local business retention and expansion has a direct economic impact on the city ... its citizens, and has an indirect impact by increasing the quality of life in Muskogee.”

Thorstenberg said the investment the company is willing to make will allow it “to be more productive” and “will help cement the company in Muskogee for another generation.”

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot