Century Won’t Get Electric Car Plan Or 1,100 Jobs; County Leaders Not Happy

February 27, 2009

Plans for the LHS EV electric vehicle manufacturing plant to be located in Century appear to be dead, and some county leaders are not happy.

The State of Florida has rejected a $2.5 million grant application from their Renewable Energy and Energy-Efficiency Technologies program. As a result, LHS EV no longer has plans to locate the plant in Century.

“Once again Northwest Florida gets slammed when it came to state grant money,” Larry Newsom, who filed the grant application on behalf of the county, said. “All of the projects we submit are viable, but they are not looked at fair and equitable. Tallahassee does not look west.”

Nash Patel, one of the co-owners of LHS EV says without the state grant, Century and Escambia County are no longer in the company’s future.

“There are no other plans to locate in this area,” Patel said. “The project is still viable, and we will look at other areas that have expressed an interest in Florida and Alabama.”

“This will probably hurt Century worse than anybody right now, especially in these economic times,” Kevin White, District 5 Escambia County commissioner, said. “It’s sad that once again an opportunity for jobs has vanished again in Escambia County.”

LHS EV had promised about 200 jobs would have come with the plant to Century, and they said total employment could reach as high as 1,100.

“We will continue with this project and those jobs,” Patel said. “But it will not be in Escambia County.”

Escambia County helped LHS EV apply for the $2.5 million grant, and the county passed a resolution offering $39,000 in tax incentives to the company.

“We are going to continue to look at other options,” Newsom said. “But I can’t speak for what the Patels will do.”

Escambia County has requested $20 million in federal stimulus money for a green infrastructure project. If awarded, the grant might could help the Patels, Newsom said, or it could go toward other renewable energy program or a project like making buildings more energy efficient. The grant is not tied to LHS.

Patel said that LHS EV needed the $2.5 million to get $34 million in financing for Project Green Leaf. Nash and his brother Jay Patel said they had the $34 million secured in a line of credit, but they refused many media requests to name the bank that would provide the financing.

“The Patels’ concern was how money they would have to put up on the front end,” Newsom said. “The $2.5 million would have got the plant built, put people to work and got the ball rolling. They would have generated revenue before they had to put up their own money. I thought it was a very smart strategy; they would have been looking at only about a year to get a return on their investment.”

After the grant application, NorthEscambia.com reported that the Patel’s motel companies owed thousands of dollars in state taxes, as well as Escambia County touristdevelopment taxes. Liens were also filed against their companies for unpaid ECUA utility bills.

Newsom said he did not believe the tax liens had any impact on the state’s decision.

“If they took it into consideration, I don’t know anything about. There was nothing on the application that would have implied anything about it,” he said.

Century Mayor and Chamber of Commerce Director Freddie McCall was not available for comment Thursday afternoon. He was out of the office for medical reasons.


6 Responses to “Century Won’t Get Electric Car Plan Or 1,100 Jobs; County Leaders Not Happy”

  1. gchavers on March 1st, 2009 7:47 am

    aanybody who cant pay their taxes is viable????? LHS most likely stands for left handed scam. wise up people………

  2. gchavers on March 1st, 2009 7:41 am

    this so called electric car factory….. is noyhing more than a grand scam… just like the huge catfish processing thing…get a life .. or youll fall for anything.

  3. Chuck on February 27th, 2009 3:54 pm

    yeah…now we can have another hamburger joint for minimum wages. hooraaayy!!!

  4. Bob on February 27th, 2009 11:08 am

    Glad the officials did not look west this time. This was a boondoggle from the word go. The commmissioners do not look north so whats the big deal.

  5. NF on February 26th, 2009 6:10 pm

    I agree, good job. Government finally did something right!!!! :)

  6. Shaun on February 26th, 2009 5:43 pm

    I think this is the best News I have heard in a long time.

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