Loose Lips Sink Auto Plant Deals

Over on Commonwealth Conservative, Will Vehrs takes note of an article in yesterday’s Richmond Times-Dispatch suggesting that Toyota is looking at the Roanoke region as a location for a new auto assembly plant — welcome news indeed after Ford announced its plan to close its Norfolk truck assembly plant in 2008. But the unidentified Kaine administration official who leaked the news might have queered the deal. As Vehrs observes:

This anonymous Kaine official is violating a fundamental tenet of economic development – confidentiality of projects under negotiation.

Let’s hope that Toyota overlooks this gaffe. But whoever released the information needs a serious talking to — if he/she hasn’t already gotten one.

Update: One of our readers (see comments on this post) notes that The New York Times first broke the story and suggests that the Kaine administration did no more than confirm what had already been reported. That mitigates the offense somewhat, but I would hasten to add that in my years of covering economic development, the only response that I’ve ever gotten on a hot economic-development story was “no comment.”

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10 responses to “Loose Lips Sink Auto Plant Deals”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    Nah, take it easy.

    Isn’t Toyota going on the NASCAR circuit next season? Even if it’s not next year, it will be soon. That said, they need/want another plant in the heart of NASCAR country – it strengthens their brand.

    The leak was calculated – it’s called public relations/publicity and the blogs are giving Toyota free PR. And as we all know there is no such thing as bad publicity.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    Rumors of this have been out there for months, and some of us thought that recent Kia announcement for GA was the source of the rumor. Glad to know there is another prize still available. But if it was from inside the Kaine administration it might have been intentional. Perhaps to build up some public tolerance for the kind of incentives that may be demanded (something I’m sure Bacon’s Rebellion will just love). Perhaps to bring pressure on the House to restore their nutso, shortsighted cuts to the Opportunity Fund. (Explain the loss of this opportunity, those of you who voted to slash that fund — one of the REAL cuts in the House budget.) The ship of state is the only ship that leaks from the top (ask George Bush.)

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    The original “leak” came in a NY Times article which mentioned several locations in addition to the one “outside Roanoke” cited “people involved in Toyota’s decision” as the source. The NY Times article also included a number of quotes from experts and analysits but no one from Virginia.

    The source appeared to be one inside Toyota.

    So it looks like the only involvement of the governor’s office was a line in the Richmond Times Dispatch story in which the governor’s office basically confirmed what had already been reported in New York.

    Gaffe? Well if there’s been a “gaffe” here it is probably Mr. Vehrs who rushed so quickly to blame Kaine’s office that he tripped over the facts.

    Ahhh…Plus ca change…..

  4. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    Well, anonymous 12:07, without confirmation by the equally anonymous aide to Governor Kaine, there is no front page story and no chance that the Kaine Administration will be “blamed” if Toyota ends up selecting Arkansas or some other state.

    You may not recall, but economic developers in the Roanoke area took a lot of heat when the Dell plant went to North Carolina. Some in the region blamed the state for not being competitive. Those charges were bogus.

    If you want to think this is about criticizing Kaine’s office, go ahead. Jim Bacon, who has a long association with economic development, confirms what my post was about–economic developers should work confidentially, regardless of what their clients do.

    Economic development should be non-partisan.

  5. Anon 12:07 Avatar
    Anon 12:07

    “Non partisan”??? From you Mr. Vehrs??? What a hoot!

  6. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    And an equal hoot to imagine that you are anything but a partisan yourself.

    Thanks for giving yourself a trackable name 12:07; wish you had chosen to respond to the substance, instead of getting personal.

  7. Anon 12:07 Avatar
    Anon 12:07

    My, my senstive and defensive aren’t we? Well, some have much to be defensive about.

    Bye now….

  8. Anon 12:07 Avatar
    Anon 12:07

    Mr. Bacon, you should check back on the hype that surrounded the Disney Historical developement in Prince William County in the mid 90’s. Now that was one in which an administration let a lot of information out before anything had been cleared with local government and federal agencies.

    I have a hard time thinking that a major corporation would let something like a confirmation similar to the one that appeared in the Times Dispatch scare them off.

    In my limited experience, things like incentives, tax structure, labor availability and training capacity, land avilabilty and infastructure, transportation (hmmm is the General Assembly listening?), proximity to markets, financing and the like are far more important.

    But heck what do I know? Maybe some companies are “the shrinking violet type” and fade quickly at a partial confirmation of a previously published article.

    If so, aren’t they really looking for an excuse to cut and run?

  9. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    I note that Governor Kaine gave this answer when asked yesterday about Toyota: “I don’t talk about prospects.” That’s the right answer and I hope others know enough to follow his lead so economic development speaks with one voice.

    I also note that various factions are already criticizing Virginia in advance for not making massive pay-outs to lure companies, as if to position themselves in case we don’t get Toyota. Funny how successful Virginia has been without these excessive packages.

  10. Anonymous Avatar

    Augusta County, Virginia, has allegedly spent $440,000 of taxpayers’ money on an impact study, done behind closed doors. The secret study is allegedly for the Toyota plant.

    No one knows for sure, however, since the Board of Supervisors REFUSES to reveal what the study was for.

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