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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas Senate President Jonathan Dismang speaks on the floor Thursday after the chamber concluded its scheduled special session business, including passing a House version of a superproject incentive package 30-2. - Photo by Gavin Lesnick

The Arkansas Senate on Thursday passed a House bill to approve more than $87 million in state bonds to support an economic development superproject in south Arkansas.

The House was expected to consider an identical Senate bill later Thursday morning, the final votes in each chamber before Gov. Asa Hutchinson makes the incentive package official with a signature.

The Senate voted 30-2 to approve House Bill 1003.

The vote came on the third day of a special session called mainly to consider the Lockheed Martin incentives as it attempts to win a major Department of Defense contract to build Joint Light Tactical Vehicles at an East Camden facility. Hutchinson and other bill supporters say the contract, if awarded to Arkansas, would retain several hundred jobs, create several hundred more and potentially trigger additional investment in an economically-depressed region.

Lockheed Martin is said to be one of three finalists for the contract, which will be awarded this summer. The bonds would not be issued if one of the other finalists gets the contract.

See Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full coverage.

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  • mitchstoner
    May 28, 2015 at 5:44 p.m.

    Again, I thank Governor Hutchinson and the Arkansas Legislature for putting Arkansas in the running for this plant and jobs we need.

  • cliffcarson
    May 28, 2015 at 8:59 p.m.

    In a way I agree, but having worked on a large proposal that we didn't get just because of this very thing - our competitor was given a cash windfall, and that gave a them a lesser price.

    When competition is aborted not because of the merits of the proposal, but because of third party buy in, that demeans competition - it boils down to who has the most money.

    I want Lockheed to get this Contract because it will be a huge benefit for Arkansas and I do believe other ventures will follow. But what if the Legislature in the other competitors State pass a Bill to reduce the competitors cost by $100 million - does Arkansas enter into the bidding war? Or do we cry foul?

    As I recall Lockheed earlier stated that the USG was happiest with their Model, but was that just a ploy to get $87 Million out of the Arkansas Taxpayer? Will Lockheed cut the unit cost to the USG or will they just take that $87 million and put it in their billfolds. Who will know the difference? You? Was any money passed to members of Arkansas's Congress?
    I hate to be a naysayer but it just doesn't hit me as honest.

  • mitchstoner
    May 28, 2015 at 9:50 p.m.

    Cliff, I'm sure the bidding isn't over and one of the other 2 finalist states may outbid us. Then, if I understand this deal correctly, LM still has to be awarded the contract.

    So essentially we are bidding on a hope of getting a plant and jobs.

    But one of the initial articles on this said, " if there is no contract or if Arkansas does not get the plant, we are out nothing. The 87 mil does not get spent."

    This type of bidding war may not set well with a lot of us, but competition between states for manufacturing plants seems to be the norm. I recall a couple of competitions for Japanese auto manufacturing plants and a light truck plant in the past 20 years or so. In those, iirc, Arkansas was never even a serious contender because of the high offers of some other states.

    And then if you think about it, we and other southern states are the ones mostly in these bidding wars because of the likelihood our labor--generally non-union--is cheaper than northern unionized states. So the companies that look to us are actually starting off hoping for a bargain and thus lower costs/higher profits for their products.

    But as I've said in other places, many of us Arkies are still in a position where even a $15 an hour job is an improvement.

  • cliffcarson
    May 28, 2015 at 10:13 p.m.

    I agree with that Mitch and I do understand that if Lockheed is outbid ( the Competitors have a lower bid) that no bonds will be issued. Lockheed has gone to much expense to have an up and running facility and they should be applauded for that. But the problem with big Contracts is the Money. That gets it into Politics. And that is where things get ugly. Our soldiers deserve to have the best available and politics doesn't care a whit about that.