The good news, of course, is that Sikorsky came forward with the decision before the city council’s approval of the Beeville Economic Improvement Corporation’s $1.2 million portion of the project. In Kay & Associate’s communication with Bee Development Authority, the company reportedly re-evaluated the immediate need for the project and decided this was not yet the time.
These definitely are uneasy economic times for global entities and the clawback features that opponents fought for in the contract likely added to the decision to rethink expansion. Any entrepreneur who isn’t cautious isn’t paying attention to the evening news.
The state’s $645,000 portion of the funding carries an August 2013 expiration, so there is a window to revisit the issue if the Black Hawk helicopter rework market picks up.
The bad news, of course, is that Bee County won’t be adding those good paying jobs as quickly, when only last summer and fall they were projected to be needed by Sikorsky. More than once in the past year in this space we’ve marveled at our regional growth but wondered how and when the lackluster national and global economies would affect us. Now we have our answer.
Keep in mind Bee County’s per capita income has historically been and continues to be roughly half the state average. February unemployment numbers show the county to still have 9 percent unemployed, or some 1,129 out of work. If national trends carry here, we’re probably talking about more than 15 percent underemployed, i.e., working part time but wanting full time or having given up on searching for jobs.
Higher paying, technical positions are desirable and create indirect jobs across the spectrum, such as the new apartment complex which has just received a building permit, in part to meet the growing housing demands of Sikorsky employees.
Returning to the good news side of the ledger, Sikorsky is reportedly continuing with plans to add more new equipment for its Chase operation, so it is not shying away from its own investment here. As things shake out in the federal budget and global economy, the tentative plan is possibly to proceed with the warehouse project next summer when more is known and before the state funding expires.
We can only hope for a decisive financial course in Washington, a winding down of wartime duties for Black Hawks and filthy flying conditions worldwide.