Will promises be fulfilled?

Published 11:03 pm Friday, January 18, 2013

Weir SPM’s announcement this week that it will close in March and lay off about 60 people comes less than a year after it led city officials and others it was poised to renovate and bring new jobs to the area.
To say the least, this week’s developments were disappointing. Instead of an expected increase of about 82 new jobs by this fall, more area residents will be joining the ranks of the army of the unemployed. With Beaufort County’s unemployment rate already in double digits, the loss of more jobs is anything but good news.
Weir SPM had been eyeing a grant to help it retool. Weir never followed through on the grant, which included a payback provision ($5,000) regarding jobs not created as called for in the grant.
Although the area needs jobs, perhaps Washington and Beaufort County officials should be more cautious when considering these grants aimed at creating jobs. It seems their track records, at least in Beaufort County, are questionable. These grants, for the most part, pass through a local government before going to recipients. Those local governments can be on the hook to repay those grants if certain requirements — including creating jobs — are not met.
With such grants, the city is requiring the grant recipient to agree to repay any money should those requirements not be met. That’s a policy that protects the city and taxpayers. It’s a good policy.
These grants carry promises of more jobs, but are those promises being fulfilled?
Ask the Weir employees who are losing their jobs.