Alcoa generates benefits for region
By Kevin Anton
For the Salisbury Post
ěBring new jobs to North Carolina.î That was the message I received last December when I spoke with people across the state about Alcoaís future in North Carolina.
Now, six months later, I am happy to report that we are making great strides. The worldís largest recycler of electronic waste announced in May that it will open a regional recycling facility in Badin that will create up to 200 green jobs. We successfully recruited Electronic Recyclers International (ERI) to be the first tenant in Badin Business Park, located on the site of our former aluminum smelting plant. No project specific local or state incentives were involved.
ERI is investing $5 million in the Badin facility, and Alcoa is matching that investment in building improvements. We have committed to spend more than $10 million this year to redevelop the Badin site, including the improvements to prepare the building for ERI. The work is well under way, and last week there were 65 construction workers on-site. We have already issued $7.2 million worth of contracts ó much of it to North Carolina companies.
When work is complete in 2012, the Badin Business Park will have 535,000 square feet of prime industrial space available and 50 acres for additional development.
We continue to reach out to our business partners and contacts and are currently engaged in promising conversations with companies that could bring hundreds of millions of dollars in additional investment and several hundred high-paying jobs to Stanly County. Among the key selling points: the proximity to low-cost, carbon-free power from our Yadkin Hydroelectric Project along the Yadkin River, prime transportation links and a manufacturing facility with extensive infrastructure.
Since the beginning of the year, weíve been following through on other commitments. When state officials asked for more transparency about Alcoa Power Generatingís hydro project, for example, we shared audited financial statements. We held more than 40 meetings with local and state officials in the past six months to offer detailed briefings and answer questions about our operations. We brought together a community advisory board to provide ongoing dialogue with community leaders and established a community hotline that allows people to anonymously report concerns about our operations.
By working together with Stanly County and the state of North Carolina, we can make a positive impact on the community now, and avoid years of costly litigation.
That includes delivering the benefits of the Relicensing Settlement Agreement. Most of these benefits only Alcoa Power Generating can deliver, because we own the land committed in the RSA. These benefits include continuing the improvements to water quality we have already seen from new turbine technology; expanding Morrow Mountain State Park through the donation of more than 1,000 acres of land; preserving an additional 5,000 acres of land through conservation agreements; and better protecting the water supply during drought conditions through a new drought management plan.
Taken as a whole, our actions demonstrate what we said in the beginning: Alcoa Power Generating is the best choice to operate the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project, and we are working hard to earn and keep your support for our relicensing application.
Kevin Anton is Alcoaís chief sustainability officer.