Rust wins Corporate Welfare award

Blue Water Fiber: Port Huron, Michigan

Nominated for a Corporate Welfare award (“Terrible 10 ‘Candy Store’ Deals of 1994”) by the Detroit and Southeastern Michigan Carpenters District Council for accepting more than $81 million in aid from the state of Michigan, then building its Port Huron recycling mill with 85% out-of-state labor.

Blue Water Fiber, a paper recycling mill half-owned by affiliates of RUST International (which is controlled by WMX Technologies) and half-owned by Toronto millionaire George Weston, got $76 million in tax-exempt bond financing from Michigan’s Strategic Fund, with an additional $5 million outright grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Solid Waste Alternatives Program, and a $110,771 training grant from the Michigan Jobs Commission.

The company projected 400 construction jobs, but building trades unions see only about 200, and license-plate checks revealed that between 85 and 90 percent of the workers were from out of state. Worst of all, the $81.1 million in state aid will net Michigan only 34 permanent jobs — almost $2.4 million per job! State Representative Karen Willard has introduced a “Michigan Dollars for Michigan Jobs” bill to prevent such abuses in the future. Local contact: Ray Lepine 810-548-9202.