Deferred Alcoa deal has Badin residents, leaders upset

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BADIN, N.C.,None - A local company is promising millions of dollars in new jobs in Stanly County, but county and state leaders say the deal that aluminum manufacturer Alcoa is making is not good enough.

Badin is a company town and the company is Alcoa, which has for years been fighting a battle with Stanly County and the state over control of four dams that generate power along the Yadkin River.

This week Alcoa disclosed details of an offer to Stanly County promising within four years to recruit $30 million worth of new jobs to the county, the equivalent of 750 jobs paying $40,000 a year.

They would also pay the county $1 million a year if the jobs are not realized. But the deal is only in effect if the county stops opposing Alcoa’s bid for a new 50-year license to operate the dams.

“I think it does make us skeptical,” said Stanly County Commissioner Lindsey Dunevant.

Dunevant is part of a commission that opposes the Alcoa plan, arguing electricity from the dams would generate billions for Alcoa and relatively little for taxpayers.

“Every time we’ve put that language in any kind of proposal that’s been shared, they’ve removed that,” Dunevant said.

So the county and Gov. Beverly Perdue’s administration have remained steadfastly opposed.

That opposition has not gone over well in Badin, which lost 400 jobs when the Alcoa plant began shutting down in 2002. The town has been searching for jobs to replace them ever since.

Along Badin’s tiny main street, loyalty to Alcoa is easy to find. “It’s like our parent to the town,” said Mayor Jim Harrison.

Further down the street, Vanessa Mullinix is livid that hundreds of jobs may not come to the area.

“I don’t understand it. I don’t understand what the motive is, that our elected officials can keep us depressed,” she said.

Angry words on both sides of the issue, much like the river itself that flows through Badin, show no signs of slowing down.

Alcoa needs state approval to renew its license along the Yadkin River. That is unlikely as long as Stanly County leaders fight against it.