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Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) responded Thursday to news reports confirming Continental Tire’s decision to build a major facility in Sumter County, SC, instead of Brunswick County. North Carolina’s commerce secretary has scheduled a news conference to discuss the decision at 11:30 a.m. in Brunswick County. The decision followed news reports that a Democrat state lawmaker and major donors to Gov. Beverly Perdue would have received a financial windfall if Continental Tire had chosen the executive branch’s proposed site.

Below is a statement from Senator Berger:

“We worked in good faith with the Perdue administration for six months to develop a responsible proposal to attract these jobs. We went to great lengths to reach an agreement, but we also had several serious concerns – including the governor’s plan that would line the pockets of her political supporters. Since August, we’ve tried to convince her administration that this deal reeked of cronyism – a fact they chose to ignore. Now, pay-to-play politics has cost our state more than 1,000 new jobs.

“This is embarrassing for North Carolina. It’s this kind of incompetence and unethical behavior that has disgraced Democrat politician after Democrat politician in North Carolina. And we will not allow the state to do business like this anymore.”

Attached are a timeline of key events and a Sept. 19 letter from Berger to Perdue reiterating his concerns about the executive branch’s proposal.


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The final word on “Project Soccer” is expected this afternoon, and it won’t likely be good news for North Carolina. Continental Tire is expected to announce plans for a plant in South Carolina that could bring as many as 1,700 jobs, the Associated Press report.

Meanwhile, North Carolina Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco is in Brunswick County this morning. A news release from the Commerce Department says Crisco will meet with leaders in Brunswick County to discuss the status of Project Soccer. He will talk with reporters after the closed meeting.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley yesterday announced plans for major economic development announcement in Sumter County for 2:30 p.m. today. County officials said last week the German tire company would invest up to $1 billion on a plant there, but state officials have not confirmed the details.

State lawmakers have said North Carolina would likely lose out on the deal that would have brought the factory to a site in Brunswick County near the Columbus County, because South Carolina was willing to front millions of dollars in incentives. North Carolina’s offer reportedly would have spread those incentives out over time. Rep. Dewey Hill (D-20th District) said there was the possibility of matching South Carolina’s deal, but Hill said State Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger would not agree to the terms.

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12 Comments on "Senator Berger blames Perdue’s “Pay-to-Play Politics” for losing “Project Soccer”"

frank roncone
2015 years 9 months ago

Just remember this when it’s time to vote these meatballs out. Does anyone but a republican care who owns the land in question.

2015 years 9 months ago

for starters, their North American corporate headquarters are in SC.

Second, South Carolina put together the program the corporate leaders were looking for.

Third, see the second. South Carolina officials traveled to Germany just after the Paris Air Show, in part, to garner last minute data which could be used in fine tuning their proposal. On the other hand, Secretary Crisco, and his 5 staff members, who were also at the Air Show chose not to go to Germany to show intense interest in the project or to garner critical data which might have made a difference. The same held true for Secretary of State Marshall who traveled to Moldova, on the taxpayers’ dime and also chose to bypass a trip to Germany while in Europe.

Fourth, look at that 100 page email chain. This was not some spur of the moment program. Corporations don’t plan on a multi-year billion dollar investment without a lot of planning. Yet the majority of the state emails show last minute, grasping efforts. Efforts to use exisiting programs, designed for small to mid size corporate incentives, to cover the unique needs of this extraordinary opportunity. It was akin to trying to put a basketball into a green hole at the golf course. Out of the box thinking was required. South Carolina did it; North Carolina did not.

There were references to other North Carolina sites which could have been acceptable. But, the email writer spent more time worried about some existing incentive program which might interfere with a project of this size. That would have seemed to be a no brainer. While the legislature was in session, you get that incentive program modified to allow this project to move forward.

And the SC site selected showed port access was not a critical issue.

There were references to some pending legal action, in NC, against Continental Tire by the labor union and its employees. A lawsuit which commenced in 2007 or 2008, I believe. Why was that an issue of concern which expended a lot of email time. Pretty quickly, it could have been determined, through email or face to face meetings with Continental Tire to determine if this was a critical issue. If it was a deal breaker, then move on rather than try to force a deal to happen which might not have had a chance.

Fifth, sadly, it appears all involved in NC government will continue to try to shift blame rather than learn from the lessons gained and develop some modern day thinking.

Sixth, at the end of the day, the Governor and Secretary of Commerce should share the blame. This opportunity required leadership which would cut through butt covering emails and force State staff to develop an incentive plan unique for this corporation which could then be approved or turned down by the Governor, Council of State, and the Legislature while it was in session.

Bottom Line, too little and too late.

But never fear, our Governor and Secretary of Commerce are headed to Asia this month to build relationships.

And no doubt, next Spring, the Secretary will lead another contingent to the Air Show in Europe where they will work on relationship building and prospect development for the fifth consecutive year, on the taxpayers’ dime.

And don’t kid yourself. Asian and European corporate leaders probably have a better graps on how this deal did not go down in North Carolina than some in our Government. With existing programs, and mindsets in Raleigh, North Carolina is likely viewed as a second tier opportunity for small ventures which might add a hundred or two hundred jobs for a new business opportunity. Not likely that we would be given serious consideration for a large corporate undertaking.

All the focus was on the long term jobs. This should have been a no brainer. From the very ground breaking, hundreds would have been employed during the construction phases. And as the construction progressed, those 1500 permanent jobs would have come on line in phases.

This was a major opportunity lost.

I guess in government, when something doesn’t work, you stay the course with that same program until your successor is elected or appointed.

The first order of business should be the replacement of the Secretary of Commerce and his spokesman. They’ve had ample time to get the job done. IN corporate America, the real world, repeated failures normally lead to replacement. IN other words, encourage them to seek alternate employment opportunities.

2015 years 9 months ago

He who is at fault is usually the first to point the finger…Just saying…Why not let Continental Tire say why they chose SC instead of NC. When it comes to land deals, landowners usually support one side or the other, why was this such a big deal?
Continental Tire is a business…A business which is about making money…Big decisions are made with MONEY in mind. That’s the nature of business.
…It almost makes you wonder if some people didn’t agree to offer more money to the company simply because they could use this to blame the other side politically…while the citizens of NC suffer the most…SAD. When will politicians put their own interests aside and think about the citizens they claim to represent.

2015 years 9 months ago

I want to start a business. You think I can get the government to give me a few million to start it?

2015 years 9 months ago

…when it’s a case of blatant corruption and conflict of interest.

2015 years 9 months ago

All I can say is….Amen bro!!!!!!!

2015 years 9 months ago

I’m a Republican; the land ownership was not an issue for me.

The land owners purchased it in 2007. If I read correctly, Continental Tire did not begin the planning for this endeavour until 2009. I don’t see how the land owners could have made the purchase in anticipation of this expansion.

I say it again. The current incentives are not consistent with those required for projects of this magnitude. Even Senator Berger has admitted that.

So, again, you look at the Secretary of Commerce and the Governor. What are they doing, right now, to prepare for the next big opportunity?

Have they analyzed those emails and identified the writers who spent more time worrying about the impact on some other program? Those email writers must have worked in the banking or insurance industries. I have not seen such emails since the financial meltdown and the last big hurricane when so many tried to shunt the blame onto others.

But not to worry. The Secretary and Governor are packing their bags to head to Asia. Now I know some will say the recent announcement of a 400 job expansion in the Triad by Honda Jet must have come from last year’s relationship building trip. But that expansion is to an existing plant facility.

When the peg doesn’t fit in the round hole, just keep hammering on it until it does.

2015 years 9 months ago

Gov. Perdue’s policies are anti-business. She should resign before the end of her term.

2015 years 9 months ago

Incentives be damned, anyhow! It is no way to attract business, in fact it is not the State government’s place to attract business at all.

We are a bunch of whining crybabies, expecting government to do everything for us, no matter the cost!

Mike T.
2015 years 9 months ago

The leader of the NC Senate confirms that ownership of the land stopped him from allowing project soccer to come to Southeast NC. The Senator understands a site selection process and knows very well that the company buys what fits their need and could care less about who they are buying from. “What a shame” Its sad when a person is so inflamed against the Democratic Party that they would hold 1,500 families hostage and disallow them an opportunity to improve their lives. Something tells me Southeast NC will remember this one for a long time.

Wade griffis
2015 years 9 months ago

We have a really good company in this town. PPD. They have provided very good jobs to a lot of people. Even though I am long time retired, I honor them and hope that they stay here.

But then, we have our own PPD.

Pandering Posturing Deceivers. These start with the Governor and then move to all the other politicians who are trying to shift blame to everybody else.

They want to blame everybody else for the fact that we did not get the tire plant.

Pandering, Posturing, Deceivers

2015 years 9 months ago

Its my understanding that approx. 14 Repubilans and approx. 19 Democrats were ready to make this deal happen and what Im hearing is that Berger, which he just stated in the above article, killed the deal because of the owners of the land.


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